Each social network is made up of nodes, which usually represent people – although they could well be resources or a mixture of both -interconnected by links. A link represents an existing relationship in the real world. Depending on the type of relationship, this link may or may not have an address.
If the network represents information flows, the links will be directed since one person can receive messages from another and not respond to them. On the other hand, if the network lists people who have participated in the same project, it is not possible to establish an address in the link.
On the other hand, a threshold must be established to decide whether to include a link between two nodes. For example, a relationship exists if they meet more than twice a week or exchange more than 20 emails monthly.
Another more complex option is to assign a weight to the link that reflects the strength of the relationship. It could be modeled, for example, both that one individual communicates with another and the intensity according to the number of messages. Another interesting option is to condition the appearance of a link to the fact that there has been interaction in both directions (when the network is directed).
The relations of the social network of the company
Once the links to be studied in the organization have been defined, the construction of the social network allows visualizing the existing relationships. However, the usefulness of this visualization depends on the size of the network.
The larger the organization, the more tangled and confusing the resulting social network visualization will be. Networks with more than one hundred employees are difficult to analyze visually, which leads us to provide the manager with different metrics that summarize key aspects of the behavior of the social network, and whose combination facilitates the task of analysis and interpretation.
The figure below summarizes how these informal networks arise within the organization and the need to manage them. First of all, it should be noted that knowledge-based organizations are organized to be effective problem-solving and decision-making machines.
They are organizations with a marked orientation towards quality, the generation of effective responses, and the efficient use of resources. This implies that the work is carried out in a highly changing context, where, on the one hand, there is a tendency towards less defined organizational roles that allow greater flexibility in reorganization and, on the other hand, require a constant need for innovation in processes.
This nature of the work requires taking advantage of more flexible structures, which naturally generates unforeseen cooperative behaviors that are based on implicit trust relationships between members.
Knowledge becomes one more asset of the organization, being distributed among the members, both repositories of information and generators of that knowledge.
Thus, knowledge-based business processes are supported by informal social structures, which do not necessarily correspond to the original design and are not represented in the formal organization chart either, which does not exempt them from the need to incorporate them into the management of the organization.
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