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Formal structures and informal networks: Structural analysis in organizations


  • Rank, Olaf N.


Summary Adopting a network-analytical approach this study tests predictions regarding the coexistence of formal organizational structures and informal networks. Data have been collected on the cooperative relationships within the strategic decision process at the two top-management levels in two German multinational corporations. The results from applying QAP and ANOVA analytical techniques reveal--against widespread assumptions--that managers participating in strategy-making not only use informal cooperation ties in addition to their formally designed relationships, but they also disregard their formal work contacts to a surprising extent. Moreover, significant differences can be found between horizontal and vertical relationships: (1) formal horizontal ties are much more likely to be disregarded than formal vertical ties, and (2) a significantly greater number of informal ties are built and maintained in a vertical rather than a horizontal direction. The results contribute to the existing literature in this field by offering deeper insights into the interdependencies between formal structures and informal networks.

Suggested Citation

  • Rank, Olaf N., 2008. "Formal structures and informal networks: Structural analysis in organizations," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 145-161, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:24:y:2008:i:2:p:145-161

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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Ripollés & Andreu Blesa, 0. "Entry mode choices in the international new ventures context. A study from different theoretical perspectives," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-21.
    2. Schwartz, Michael & Hornych, Christoph, 2010. "Informal networking: An overview of the literature and an agenda for future research," Jena Contributions to Economic Research 2010,1, University of Applied Sciences Jena, Department of Business Administration.
    3. Claussen, Jörg & Grohsjean, Thorsten & Luger, Johannes & Probst, Gilbert, 2014. "Talent management and career development: What it takes to get promoted," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 236-244.
    4. Kai Riemer & Stefan Stieglitz & Christian Meske, 2015. "From Top to Bottom," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 57(3), pages 197-212, June.
    5. repec:spr:intemj:v:13:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11365-016-0410-y is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Song, Xiao & Shi, Wen & Ma, Yaofei & Yang, Chen, 2015. "Impact of informal networks on opinion dynamics in hierarchically formal organization," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 436(C), pages 916-924.


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