Social networks

In addition to any formal organizational structure, a lot of what is accomplished in organizations is done informally, in spite of the standard systems. A discipline has grown up around studying patterns of informal interaction, and forms the basis for this architectural view. Tools and applications address social networking to enable communities of interest and practice. (Granovetter, 1973)

Elements:

  • role-players
  • organizations
  • ties
  • strength of tie
  • information transfer
  • types of social bonds, such as friendship, collegiality, sexual, dependence.
Purpose:
 
The purpose of the social network viewpoint is to get an angle on how the enterprise works beyond the official organization structures and processes.  It seems commonplace to observe that the business of the enterprise gets done in spite of the formal systems.  The informal networks and channels that are observed in the current situation may give clues about opportunities to redesign the formal to better conform with the way people are getting the job done.
  • Descriptive - Mostly descriptive, it seems
  • Prescriptive - Possible to prescribe certain measures to foster certain kinds of networking behavior.
  • Predictive - Certain kinds of formal structures spawn recognizable types of social network configurations.  It is apparently commonplace to find the wily clerk in the mold of Radar O'Reilly in military organizations.