Does the Playing Field Determine the Game?: An Impact Analysis of Structural Virtual Network Characteristics on Political Actions

Staar, Henning ; Janneck, Monique ; Metzger, Frederik M. ; Berwing, Stefan ; Armbrüster, Thomas

Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2013
The title of a journal, publication series: International Journal of Sociotechnology and Knowledge Development : IJSKD
Volume: 5
Issue number: 3
Page range: 32-50
Place of publication: Hershey, Pa.
Publishing house: IGI Publ.
ISSN: 1941-6253
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (ifm)
Subject: 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
330 Economics
Keywords (English): Influence Tactics , Micro-Politics , Network Structures , Political Behaviour , Virtual Networks
Abstract: Virtual networks are often characterized as having less formal and hierarchical structures compared to traditional intra-organizational contexts. Instead, informal actions and so-called political behaviour of individual members play an important role regarding power and decision-making. In the present paper the authors investigate the relation between structural characteristics of virtual networks and informal influence tactics of network members. Results show that there are indeed numerous relations between the ‘playing field’ provided by the network structure and the behaviour of individual network players. Surprisingly, an increase of formalization, e.g. through the use of agreements, fixed principles and rules or even contracts, did not constrain informal political behavior. On the contrary, higher formalization was comprehensively associated with higher use of micro-political tactics. In addition, the use of all tested influence tactics showed to be positively related to network outcomes in terms of product, process and service innovation on a moderate level. Overall, these first insights into the interplay between network structures and informal influence behavior suggest that the approach to restrict micro-politics through stronger structuring might not only be ineffective but possibly misconceives the potential of micro-politics for collective goals in virtual collaborations. Despite the fact that this was an exploratory study, the results strongly argue for a deeper investigation on how virtual networks could benefit from micro-political actions.

Dieser Eintrag ist Teil der Universitätsbibliographie.

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