A relational practice approach to the study of social networks

Maria Binz-Scharf
City University of New York (CUNY)

As work in organizations is increasingly accomplished through a complex system of formal and informal relationships, organizational network research has had a surge in popularity. Most of this research, however, has focused on network structures. The core idea of a practice approach to the study of social networks is to examine through an interpretive, relational lens how individuals accomplish work. Rather than following prescribed ties of authority, such as business units and teams, the researcher goes on a journey to discover the complex networks that emerge from individuals’ work practices. A focus on practice forces the researcher to zoom in and out of micro and macro levels of analysis in order to gain an in-depth understanding of tie content and network dynamics. Understanding people’s relational practices in the workplace will lead to new theorizing about work as we continue to move towards more fluid organizational forms.

Presentation (PDF File)

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