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2020 | Book

Informal Networks and Organizational Change

Positive Contributions and the Role of Identification


About this book

This thesis examines the role of informal employee networks and their potential positive contributions to a successful implementation of disruptive organizational change. It relies on an in-depth analysis of qualitative data, collected in 13 semi-structured interviews. The findings show that in times of organizational change, employees countervail the capacities of their informal networks to optimize organizational effectiveness and efficiency against the effectiveness and efficiency of prevalent formal organizational structures. A central dynamic also detected in the findings is the role of organizational identification as a key driver to engage in informal networks to positively support an organization’s change process implementation.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
The role of informal networks within organizations is deemed as particularly relevant and therefore widely discussed in corresponding academic research as well as the managerial discourse (Waldstrøm, 2001; Katz, Lazer & Arrow, 2010). However, the interrelation between formal and informal organizational structures seems under-researched (Foss, Husted & Michailova 2010; Hannah & Robertson, 2015). At the same time, the necessity as well as the strive for change is regarded as an important feature of organizational practice (Barchiesi, Battistoni, Iacobone & La Bella, 2008).
Lukas Kocher
Chapter 2. Theoretical Framework
The framework will illustrate the current discourse on informal organizational networks and organizational identification as the theoretical realms framing this particular research. They will be introduced separately before their relationship with regard to organizational change implementation, as suggested through the findings, will be illustrated in the discussion.
Lukas Kocher
Chapter 3. Methodology
To address the research question based on relevant corresponding data, a qualitative approach deemed most expedient, in order to grasp the variety of dynamics manifested in the informal organization. Katz et al. (2010) shed light on the possibilities to apply quantitative approaches to assess organizational informality. Regardless of the approach chosen, the context of concrete empirical cases is a popular mean in social science (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007).
Lukas Kocher
Chapter 4. Findings
The second-order themes, first-order categories and according representative data, summarized in a table in Appendix 2 of this work, are organized under three theoretical dimensions, namely organizational context, organizational informality and organizational identification. The two latter ones are explicitly discussed in the theoretical framework. The decision to elevate the organizational context to the same level as the two theoretical realms, addressed in chapter 2, within the data structure is based on the fact, that the specific idiosyncrasy and unrepeatable settings of empirical cases should always be taken into account in organizational research (Lombardo & Kvålshaugen, 2014).
Lukas Kocher
Chapter 5. Discussion
After presenting the answer to the research question in 5.1, subchapter 5.2 will continue by firstly examining the specific role that organizational identification played for the organizational members in my empirical setting and secondly, by contrasting this positive dynamic and the resulting capacities of informal employee networks with findings from other scientific contributions. As some of those capacities have hardly been explicitly addressed in other works, I will present a first attempt to theoretically embed them in section 5.3, before addressing my research’s limitations in 5.4, and managerial implications as well as suggestions for further research in 5.5.
Lukas Kocher
Chapter 6. Conclusion
The starting point of this work was to find out how informal employee networks can contribute positively to the implementation of organizational change. I assessed this question by conducting semi-structured interviews with 13 employees working in climate-change-related positions at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.
Lukas Kocher
Informal Networks and Organizational Change
Lukas Kocher
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