Network mapping can be used to generate a map of a workplace or organisation, by asking workers to trace connections between different individuals, groups, activities and tools. It can help reveal neglected or hidden power relations, as well as points of weakness where transformations might be targeted.
- Identify points of weakness and ‘structural holes’ in an organisation, e.g. where a single break in communication could cause the whole work process to break down.
- Identify key individuals in a network who act as ‘connectors’ linking many others together (the person who ‘knows everyone’), or ‘contractors’ who provide more direct access to certain network resources (the person has ‘direct lines’ of communication).
- Identify areas where an organisation's networks are dense (‘cliques’) or sparse to the point where certain individuals are ‘isolates’.
- Understand how simple tasks rely on broader connections to technology, staff roles and wider concerns.
- Identify means of developing professionally by building and strengthening networks of ‘high value’ links
- It can reveal potentially hidden lines of power or influence within the workplace
- It can reveal points of weakness and where there is potential for change.
- It is a relatively simple exercise, which can yield plenty of useful information about a variety of aspects of work.
There are many different ways that you can map a workplace or organisation, and you can find out more about different methods below:
Perhaps the most prevalent form of theorizing and researching networks and networking is Social Network Analysis (SNA). The earliest attempts to use versions of social network analysis were associated with understanding the common structural forms of diverse societies, mathematical graph theory was used as the basis for analysis leaving the key question for social scientists being the identification of the appropriate unit of analysis: usually, but not always, the individual person - other social network analysis could be carried out at the level of organisations or political entities.
An important distinction can be drawn between ‘whole network’ and ‘ego-centred’ social network analysis. The former assumes that all of the elements of a network are known, or at least that the boundaries of the network are defined in advance: this can be difficult in practice and encourages network models based on single indicators (e.g. email contact, formal membership of organizations). In ego-centred approaches, there is no assumption that any individual has oversight of the entire network and the boundaries being studied only emerge as data are collected - this means that what results is an individual’s personal perception of the networks to which they belong or have access, and allows for more subjective measures to be used (e.g. friendship, affinities).
The Network Structure Of Social Capital
This is a review of argument and evidence on the connection between social networks and social capital. My summary points are three: (1) Research and theory will better cumulate across studies if we focus on the network mechanisms responsible for social capital effects rather than trying to integrate across metaphors of social capital loosely tied to distant empirical indicators.
Recent Developments in Network Measurement (Chapter 2) - Models and Methods in Social Network Analysis
Print publication year: Online publication date: This chapter considers study design and data collection methods for social network studies, emphasizing methodological research and applications that have appeared since an earlier review (Marsden 1990). It concentrates on methods and instruments for measuring social relationships linking actors or objects.
Social Network Analysis
"Social network analysis is used widely in the social and behavioral sciences, as well as in economics, marketing, and industrial engineering. The social network perspective focuses on relationships among social entities and is an important addition to standard social and behavioral research, which is primarily concerned with attributes of the social units.