The development and maintenance of relationships within and between organizational components are exhibited in the flows of information and resources work, money among positions. Thus, an assessment of the resource and information flows provides an important process perspective of the transactions that occur between organizational components and individuals involved in the organizational buying process. Network analysis can be used to assess these relationships and distinguish four types of relations in organizational contexts: l exchanges of goods or services; 2 exchanges of affect liking, friendship ; 3 exchanges of influence power ; and 4 exchanges of information Tichy A network view is especially instrumental in exploring the structural dimensions of intraorganizational influence.
Organizational structure can be defined ". In turn, the specific work that organizations diwide among subunits is further diwided among individuals, and some individual positions will clearly be more powerful than others Brass Consistent with a network perspective, organizational structure may result from formally prescribed positions or from emergent patterns of behavior. To illustrate, an organizational buyer may engage in information exchanges that do not conform to formal communication channels or may informally modify the prescribed workflow in accomplishing a particular purchasing task.
As these informal interactions become recurring patterns of behavior, a further element of structure is added to the organization.
In advancing a structural perspective on intraorganizational influence, Brass notes: "An employee's structural position within the organization is the result of the particular combination or interaction of both formal and emergent interdependencies. Thus, the organization can be conceptualized as networks of interrelated structural positions, with individual employees occupying these relational positions" p. A number of theorists Kanter , Perrow , Pfeffer have concluded that power or influence is basically a structural phenomenon.
Network theory holds that relative power and influence can be derived from patterns of social relations Burt , Galaskiewicz This perspective is compatible with power conceptualized in relational terms. Additionally, individuals or groups that control needed resources create dependencies from others Crozier , Hickson et al. Relatedly, research supports the proposition that structural centrality is related to influence Leavitt , Mulder Moreover, research suggests that individuals who are centrally located in a network display high degrees of cohesiveness and low degrees of dependency Alba and Moore , Kadushin , Turk Empirical results from two recent intraorganizational influence studies support the linkages between social network structural relationships and individual influence levels.
First, Blau and Alba found that individuals are empowered by unit participation in organization-wide communication networks. Also, to a lesser degree, individuals were found to be more powerful if they developed contacts external to the organization.
Second, Brass observed that relative positions of employees within workflow, communication, and friendship networks strongly related to influence as perceived by both supervisors and nonsupervisors. The structural perspective of intraorganizational influence advanced by brass provides a framework for: l exploring individual influence patterns during recurring organizational buying-related activities; and 2 describing buying processes in terms of the relational and structural properties of social networks.
Key components of this framework are highlighted in Figure l. Influence is defined as the ability to affect purchasing-related decisions in a direction favorable to the perceived interests of an individual. Workflow networks are the paths that provide for the exchange of task goods or services while communication networks transmit job-related information. Within this formulation, departmental membership is considered an individual attribute that affects perceived influence.
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Likewise, the structural position that an individual occupies within the social networks may contribute to and be indicative of that organizational member's influence during recurring buying decision processes. Observe from Figure l that consideration is given to three structural network dimensions:. Linking these network properties to organizational buying influence patterns suggests a number or research propositions.
P1 Centrality in the organizational buying workflow network is positively associated with influence. P2 Centrality in the organizational buying communication network is positively associated with influence.
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Brass found that access to and control of work flows and work-related communications in the work unit, department, and organization are related to individual influence. P3 Greater criticality of the position occupied by an individual within the organizational buying network is positively associated with influence. Criticality has been found to be positively associated with influence among organizational subunits Hinings et al.
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Pfeffer and Mechanic also proposed that irreplaceability can be a source of power. Brass found that individuals who occupied positions vital to the continued exchange of task goods or services were perceived influential. Since organizational buying involves individuals representing different functional units, occupying a position that lies on the only reachable path for work exchanges empowers the individual relative to other network members.
For example, if an engineer has sole product approval authority, clearly that network position bestows that individual with influence during continued work exchanges with a buyer. P4 A larger number of transaction alternatives available to an individual within the organizational buying network is positively associated with influence. Indeed, Brass found that the number of alternatives available to an individual was positively associated wish influence.
P5 Connectedness in the organizational buying communication network is positively associated with influence.
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Connectedness refers to the average number of relationships that an individual forms with others within the network. The ability of an individual or unit to coordinate and integrate that is, connect is related to intraorganizational influence. Blau and Alba found that the integration of a work unit within organization-wide communication networks was the basis of individual power.
Likewise, Bacharach and Aiken found support for their hypothesis that greater participation in the communication network provides an individual with greater influence during decision making. P6 Access to the dominant reference groups in the organization is positively associated with influence. Individuals who interact with the most influential members of the firm would be perceived as having an impact on key decisions.
Access to this particular group may provide an individual with valuable information, resources or support. Indeed, Brass identified a dominant group based on l their personal interaction patterns and 2 their high influence ratings. His results indicated that criticality, transaction alternatives, and access to their dominant group showed significant positive relationships with perceived influence.
By analyzing organizational buying influence during ongoing and recurring purchasing processes, the realities of organizational decision making within a firm can be explored.
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This perspective considers organizational buying activities to be generally interrelated and inseparable. Organizational members representing different functional departments are investigated by exploring their purchasing-related workflow and communication patterns. Such an approach is consistent with the organizational buying behavior research tradition. Several organizational buying behavior studies have revealed that l the buying center can be considered a communications network Johnston , Spekman and Stern , and 2 graphs can be utilized to depict the sequence of purchasing tasks and formal and informal relationships among members of the purchasing process Calder Network analysis provides a tool for extending the buying center concept and isolating influence patterns embedded in the prescribed and emergent structure of the organization.
Alba, Richard D. Anderson, Paul F. Bacharach, Samuel B. Blau, Judith R. Brass, Daniel J. Bristor, Julia M. Burt, Ronald S. Calder, B. Sheth, and Peter D. Bennett, eds. Coleman, James S. Cooley, J. Jackson, and L. Greenberg and D. Bellenger, eds. Emerson, Richard M. Grashof, John F. Bernhardt, et.
Hickson, David J. Hinings, C. Lee, R. Schneck and J. Hickson, J. Pennings and R. Moreover, the development of these rules within "real world" contexts means that the rules must be true, general, operational, technically sound, and easy to use. With an understanding of rules and the processes of their use, organization structures can be identified, which in turn form the basis of a theoretical framework.
From this theoretical framework, generalized design rules are identified that can be used to design structures with specific purposes. An efficient design of organization structure s will result when design rules--along with their use--are inextricably tied to the structural components and with what these structures propose to do. The book discusses, examines, and demonstrates the interrelationship of the design rules, their use within organization structures theoretically and along with their practical implications. Throughout the book an extended example of the Masters Brewing Corporation MBC is used to illustrate the conceptual material and to make the implications of the organizational analysis explicitly concrete.
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