CGG Lecture Series “Governing Innovation: Using Social Network Analysis” (13.06.2013)

CGG Lecture Series “Dynamiken sozialer Netzwerke”

Do. 13. Juni 2013, 18 Uhr
Hörsaal K, Hauptgebäude,
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1

Julia Gluesing & Ken Riopelle,
Wayne State University, Detroit/Ill

Governing Innovation: Using Social Network Analysis

In today’s globalized economy, organizations are increasingly spanning geographical, cultural and organizational boundaries to accomplish work, supported by an integrated information technology infrastructure. For the global corporation, working well across boundaries, especially to innovate, is a necessity to stay ahead of the competition and survive. Yet in these global companies it is increasingly difficult to understand or to manage the extended communication networks through which innovation emerges and is brought to the marketplace.

The purpose of this lecture is to share the social network analysis approach and results of a five-year, National Science Foundation funded study that addresses a central business problem – how to accelerate the adoption of new ideas, processes and technologies when organizations depend on the speed of implementation to be competitive. The project team from Wayne State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago worked in partnership with information technology professionals from Ford Motor Company and Visteon. The team harnessed information in real time that already flows through a company’s information technology infrastructure to create seven metrics that are promising, accurate indicators of collaboration and team performance in an innovation network. The research results have wide applicability and benefit for governing distributed collaborative innovation using a social network analysis tools and techniques in organizations of all kinds.

Business anthropology has had a long tradition in network analysis and can have an increasingly important role to play in the future in fostering an understanding of micro organizational processes and contextual variation in both meanings and behaviors in global networked organizations. To understand global organizing, especially in the postindustrial or post-bureaucratic organizations that are enabled by information technology (IT), mixing research methods is a good way to accomplish both depth and breadth of understanding and to keep pace with emerging patterns and meanings. Quantitative and qualitative methods, automated IT-based data collection and indepth ethnography, are complementary and are important considerations in research design for studying networked organizations going forward. The IT-based analytics can tell us much about how networks are structured and how they evolve as well as about the central messages that flow through the communication networks. However, anthropology and the ethnographic tradition in network analysis can play a critical role in the future to help uncover new patterns of work, emergent roles, and different meanings for work and relationships within global networks.