A recent publication in Long Range Planning brings to the fore the interesting phenomenon of network regeneration. Often we believe that networks of all sorts, formal, informal, and especially those that are voluntarily maintained, fall apart as an organization gets temporarily hammered by restructuring.
Interestingly however, some employees actually become more active instead. Reaching out to others not because they are told to, but because they see this as a manner to cope with the uncertainty – or even opportunity – associated with restructuring.
Aalbers, R. (2019) Rewiring the Intrafirm Network under Downsizing: The Role of Tie Loss on Discretionary Tie Formation, Long Range Planning, /doi.org/10.1016/j.lrp.2018.11.002
Drawing on the literature on structural embeddedness and self-determination, I assessed the impact of the sudden loss of discretionary maintained ties on the aptitude to establish new discretionary ties as I observed an organization enduring downsizing over time, in this case at a large information technology service provider. Findings outlined in this Long Range Planning article indicate the relevance of local structural as well as global structural embeddedness as a foundation for voluntary future tie activation.
Recent work of mine together with Prof. Wilfred Dolfsma of Wageningen University that appeared in Journal of Business Research addresses the role of sudden organization turmoil on a firms delicate social network.
It demonstrates in particular how downsizing affects an organization’s voluntary ideation network in unexpected ways. Drawing on network theory, we show that the positioning of employees in an organization’s instrumental workflow network prior to a major restructuring determines the degree to which they remain engaged with ideation activity. In addition, drawing on social exchange theory, we predict and find that the value of inputs provided to peers prior to downsizing positively moderates the likelihood that ideation activity persists. So far the article has resulted in some interesting discussions on how to best prepare for a downsizing event with management in both profit and non profit sectors. Please let me know in case you are interested by dropping me an email and I gladly share our insights on this one in more detail with you to propel discussion on effective restructuring strategies forwards.
Resilience of information flow during restructuring: Characterizing information value being exchanged and the structure of a network under turmoil – HL Aalbers, W Dolfsma (2019) Journal of Business Research 100, 299-310