Zooming in on Organizational Culture and New Social Media

Let’s start with a simple model shall we?

The interplay bet. people, technology, formal networks and informal networks yields an organization's culture.

This is a part of the Organizational culture model made by our Orcom 152 instructor. It tells us that organizational culture exists in the interplay between people, technology, and formal and informal networks inside the organization. The other part is whatย  outside forces affect organizations. Going back to the model, it is clear that there is an interplay or an overlapping of the four elements. The question that needs to be answered isย  how exactly do these elements interact with each other.

People are the members of the organization. Technology is the communication technology available to the organization (New Social Media). formal and informal networks are the relationships and communication that are people within the organization share. There seems to be a connection between the four elements and that is what i want to expound on.

So to answer the question, I present another model to zoom in on the interplay between the four elements.

Red lines are formal networks. Blue lines are informal networks. Violet lines are technology-bridged networks.

Please note that this model is not strictly restrictive, meaning people can still be friends with their bosses and vice-versa. This model just represents one perspective to the dynamics of organizational communication and networks.

First let’s discuss the circles. The big dotted circles are formal social groups in organizations. These are groups made by the organizational structures like hierarchies and departments. They are made of dotted lines because though they may be different, they are still essentially part of one big organization and must thus be open and integrated to each other.

The circles inside the big circle are the members of the organization. These people see each other in a daily basis and this will inevitably lead to informal connections inside the group (blue lines). These informal connections transcend the formalities of the hierarchy and consist of horizontal communication. These networks are more common within the social group and not outside of it due to social barriers erected by hierarchies and formality in the organization. The logic is, ideally, it is easier to befriend someone of the same level in the organization as you are compared to someone higher than you.

In the perspective of the social groups being defined by hierarchy, the groups are connected by a network in respect of that hierarchy. These are called formal networks (red lines). Notice how the red lines connect the groups and not the people. This is due to the limitation that formal networks comes with. Though they are useful in enforcing organizational stability and efficiency, social groups made by ranks almost always reach employees in the impersonal way. “The guys at the X department wants…” and “People up there said that…”. How can organizations bypass this kind of network?

One way of doing so is utilizing communication technologies like the intranet in order to connect your organization. Communication technology can potentially breakdown the disadvantages of formal networks. Simply put, its mentally less taxing to text your boss about a marketing idea rather than to propose it at a meeting. It also promotes openness and lessens discrimination to new and radical ideas that may have otherwise been shut down by other committee members. Its like a process of electronic brainstorming where you don’t have to worry about the risk of being looked down upon by those of higher ranks and the boss gets a diverse amount of ideas due to the fact that there is less chance that employees can “be swept’ by a single person’s idea.

Ultimately, technology can build bridges between people in the organization that is otherwise much harder to do by traditional means

This is just one of the many perspectives one can take when viewing organizational culture. There is no one way of defining organizational culture and what affects it.

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5 Responses to Zooming in on Organizational Culture and New Social Media

  1. Karen says:

    Lem, I thought this was a discussion on molecular geometry! (Do you secretly want to be a scientist? People seem to be writing about scientifically inspired subjects this week. Haha. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I like how you focused on the micro level, instead of just seeing the big picture. Not only did you explain the dynamics among the four elements of the previous diagram, you also went through the rigors of explaining how the employees really interact with the each other. And you really emphasized the difference between formal and informal networks. Thumbs up!

    But I see that this diagram only concerns the intranet, right? I’m just wondering how you would include the three forces — new social media, collaborative economy, and the new breed of consumers — in this diagram.

    • melem1 says:

      Thank you Karen, you just gave me an idea for my next three blogs. I’m going to pursue a career on molecular geometry. Been looking for an idea of what to do next time. Big thumbs up! And about being a scientist, believe it or not that was my dream as a child. I dont know if the coats and test tubes just looked cool, or if science really my thing. Confused even up to now. Anway, thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wow Lem, I really like the way you analyzed the model given by Sir and made one that is more detailed yet is still simple and clear enough to be understood by people like me. ๐Ÿ˜€ I also like the way you focused on relationships of different levels and types, seeing that it is the most basic thing that makes organizations work. But I agree with Karen. The model is awesome and all but it wasn’t able show the role of the ‘perfect storm’ (new social media, collaborative economy, new breed of consumers) in shaping an organization’s corporate culture. Even without this, however, I can still say that you did a great job with the model. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I kind of found the second diagram a bit confusing at first. But after reading the explanation, I think I more or less got the idea. It would be cliche if I mentioned that new social media wasn’t shown in this model. However I believe what you were trying to show us is the human aspect of the organizations; the people behind the technology. Good job bro.

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