HBR article on social networks

Harvard Business Review has an article in their June issue about Social Network Analysis and how to tap into the power of informal knowledge & action creation in a company. This is an important field of study for us to keep up with, because it provides a new context for us to consider how we structure shared information spaces -- according to the 'official networks' or to support the informal ones?

The article costs $, but here's a quote from the Abstract:
Specifically, senior executives need to focus their attention on four key role-players in informal networks: Central connectors link most employees in an informal network with one another; they provide the critical information or expertise that the entire network draws on to get work done. Boundary spanners connect an informal network with other parts of the company or with similar networks in other organizations. Information brokers link different subgroups in an informal network; if they didn't, the network would splinter into smaller, less effective segments. And finally, there are peripheral specialists, who anyone in an informal network can turn to for specialized expertise but who work apart from most people in the network. The authors describe the four roles in detail, discuss the use of a well-established tool called social network analysis for determining who these role-players are in the network, and suggest ways that executives can transform ineffective informal networks into productive ones.

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Like what Petermo said...

Peter Morville also wrote about information structures and social network analysis at his website in February: http://www.semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/sna.html

I've noted a couple links about SNA and Bonnie at my site.

informal social networks

I think the "informal network" does not require structure because it is generated by key individuals sharing their personal structures/meanings with others, thereby creating the network. One might choose to model these behaviours and identify them to the shared space, but I don't know how these individuals whould react. the information broker might love receiving emails on his topic of interest, but the specialist most certainly would feel its an intrusion. This formalization, even temporarily, would most certainly create conflicts and could even spawn rival informal networks.

No man is totally without value. At the minimum, he serves as a terrible example.