A recent publication in Long Range Planning brings to the fore the interesting phenomenon of network regeneration. Often we believe that networks of all sorts, formal, informal, and especially those that are voluntarily maintained, fall apart as an organization gets temporarily hammered by restructuring. Interestingly however, some employees actually become more active instead. Reaching out to others not because they are told to, but because they see this as a manner to cope with the uncertainty – or even opportunity – associated with restructuring.
Drawing on the literature on structural embeddedness and self-determination, I assessed the impact of the sudden loss of discretionary maintained ties on the aptitude to establish new discretionary ties as I observed an organization enduring downsizing over time, in this case at a large information technology service provider. Findings outlined in this Long Range Planning article indicate the relevance of local structural as well as global structural embeddedness as a foundation for voluntary future tie activation.
So, what is there to learn?
Not all hope is lost when it comes to reigniting the innovation spark within an organization as reorganization hits the firm.
Some individuals recoup better than others, attention should be paid to one’s formal and informal network position.
One’s local as well as global structural embeddedness serves as a foundation for voluntary future tie activation.
An organization’s capacity to regenerate the informal backbone of an organization after major shock starts with understanding the social infrastructure that carries the future of the firm.
These implications extend prior work that directs senior executives seeking to implement strategic change to consider the larger formal and informal social structures, in which their labor force is embedded as a way to get employees reengaged with the organization.