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Beyond trust: towards a practice-based understanding of governing ‘network organizations’


  • Yvonne Tobias-Miersch

    () (University of Innsbruck)


Abstract In recent past the concept of the ‘network’ or ‘network organization’ has emerged as one of the most prominent concepts for thinking, understanding and conceptualizing the coordination of ‘productive activities’. In the literature on network organizations, ‘trust’ is commonly understood to be the main coordinating mechanism of this organizational form. Highlighting the problematics involved in this prime focus on trust, this study combines practice-based theory (Schatzki in Social practices: a Wittgensteinian approach to human activity and the social, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008) and a Foucauldian understanding of governing to contribute to a more differentiated understanding of the coordination of everyday activities in network organizations. By focusing on how the ‘network organization’ and its subjects are ‘produced’ in power-infused practices, this study provides insights into the complexity of mechanisms involved in such organizations. Empirically this is illustrated at the example of a consulting company which describes itself—internally and externally—as ‘network organization’. Based on an ethnographic participant observation and in-depth semi-structured interviews, the analysis of the case questions the centrality of trust as coordinating mechanism and provides deep insights into the constitution of this specific ‘network organization’.

Suggested Citation

  • Yvonne Tobias-Miersch, 2017. "Beyond trust: towards a practice-based understanding of governing ‘network organizations’," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 21(2), pages 473-498, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jmgtgv:v:21:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10997-016-9351-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s10997-016-9351-7

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