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Hierarchical structures of communication in a network organization


  • Oberg, Achim
  • Walgenbach, Peter


Summary We analyze the intranet communication behavior of members of a company that was deeply committed to the principles of non-hierarchical communication structures and of post-bureaucratic organization. We observe a split between the symbolic activities for creating a non-hierarchical network organization and the actual intranet communication behavior of the organization members. In their daily communication on the intranet, they persistently reproduced hierarchical structures and official channels--elements typically associated with bureaucratic organizations. Further, we find many signals in the content of the intranet messages, reflecting a social hierarchy that has evolved within the organization. Thus, despite rhetoric to the contrary, our findings regarding this communication behavior show that, to all intents and purposes, this particular organization displayed characteristics similar to those of a traditional bureaucratic organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Oberg, Achim & Walgenbach, Peter, 2008. "Hierarchical structures of communication in a network organization," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 183-198, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:24:y:2008:i:3:p:183-198

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Diefenbach, 2011. "When does Superiors’ Deviance threaten Organisational Hierarchy?," Working Papers 27, The German University in Cairo, Faculty of Management Technology.
    2. 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.
    3. Nadia Elena SANDULESCU, 2012. "Public Information - Requirement of Deposit Guarantee Schemes," REVISTA DE MANAGEMENT COMPARAT INTERNATIONAL/REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE MANAGEMENT, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 13(3), pages 387-393, July.
    4. Guido Fioretti, 2012. "Two measures of organizational flexibility," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 957-979, November.
    5. Sun, Zhentian & Li, Xuhong & Qiao, Wenxin & Haghani, Ali, 2013. "Entropy-based performance evaluation on institutional structures of trunk highway management—Case study in China," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 85-91.


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