Core Concepts Of Network Organizational Structure

Provan & Kenis define networks as 'groups of three or more legally autonomous organizations which work together to achieve not only their own goals but also a common goal'. The autonomous organizations are typically represented by several people. Although, it is also possible to participate in networks of people who are not representing organizations. These are, for example, people who represent a group of stakeholders regarding a certain subject. The cooperation in a network is realized around a shared vision and a common benefit to all involved parties.

As long as there is a presentable advantage to all the involved parties, the collaboration will last. The organizations and individuals in a network are also referred to as actors. In the network structure, organizations are progressively dependent on each other. It is also argued that modern society is characterized by a network structure. In general, actors in said networks pursue their own interests and goals. Argued however, is that to make this a long-lasting relationship, common goals are needed within the network.

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There isn’t always a pre-formulated network goal present, as the collaborative problem formulations and the elaboration would still need to take place. Hence it occurs that these shared goals might change from time to time.

The context in which employees do their work is increasingly shifting outwards. As the cooperation between employees does not solely rely on internal collaboration anymore, trends show that external collaboration increases in popularity. Inside these networks there are mutual dependencies between actors, as either sides are dependent of each other due to material or immaterial means.

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Kuppenjan and Klijn distinguish five types of means:

  • Financial resources;
  • Production resources (e.g. personnel and equipment);
  • Competence (including the formal power to take certain decisions);
  • Knowledge (e.g. knowledge in people's heads and knowledge in documents);
  • Legitimacy (e.g. an elected political body which, with its support, has the additional power to gives weight to a project or policy initiative).

The extent to which actors are interdependent is determined by the importance that the resources of others and the possibility of replacing them means. Replacement of funds is possible by involving them through other actors. The idea here is that more can be achieved together than alone. Leadership styles for effective collaboration 21 Cooperation in the networked society is predominantly asymmetric Dependencies. One actor is then more dependent on another actor than the other way around. Actors are not always aware of their dependencies, which means that they have their own strength may overestimate. In this case, the actor's behavior does not correspond to the dependence of others, with all the consequences that entails.

Dependence between actors is high when the importance of resources is high and replaceability is low. Where the product is readily replaceable while the importance of the medium is high, then there is a low dependence between actors etcetera. The activities of organizations are increasingly being subject to variety and a greater variation in the qualifications required is needed, which is not always the case are distributed over several persons. This implies that 'what', 'who', 'how' and 'when' are in many cases, decisions are only taken during implementation, with decisions taken by the one party. The operator, in this case the municipality, has an influence on that of another (citizens) and vice versa. In short, the team members of the different organizations are mutually dependent on each other, there is then of 'mutual interdependence'. With such a form of interdependence, it is desirable to that people coordinate their activities. Mintzberg (1983) calls this method the coordination of mutual adjustment. The harmonization often also relates to mutual influence, the search for solutions together and learning from each other. The collaboration in the network society between organizations has been in several literature sources described as a solution to tackle today's (social) problems. In that case, different organizations and parties will usually work together on a project to solve these problems. A project is generally a temporary joint venture of persons from different parts of the organization who to achieve a specific objective. The project organization is the whole of temporary joint ventures, partly filled with Employees from the company's own organization, some of which are external staff. The projects know usually have a specific objective and a specific timeframe. After the expiry of the time limit they will be dissolved. Team members can access information and exchange knowledge with a view to arriving at a common analysis, together with a decision but also to carry out a task together.

Updated: Feb 14, 2024
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Core Concepts Of Network Organizational Structure. (2024, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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