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The Symbiotic Existence of Interorganizational and Interpersonal Networks in Collaboration

Most traditional theories adopted to explain collaboration in interorganizational relationships (IOR) have failed to adequately address the micro and macro dynamics of the phenomenon. Collaboration theory developed within the mainstream of public administration research views leveraging structure, processes, and people as the key to successful collaboration. Yet, the applicability of the theory’s principles and abstractions in the private sector remains unexplored. Social network theory also presumes that IOR arise out of ongoing interaction at both micro and macro levels. However, the field is fragmented, with the interpersonal and interorganizational networks being studied separately. Thus, an opportunity exists to combine collaboration theory with social network perspective and to view interorganizational collaboration from a multilevel lens. An exploratory case study methodology informed by an interpretivist epistemological stance was used to address this gap. An egocentric network of a third party logistics company that covers six relationships provided a rich context for the study. The study finding expands our understanding of the distinction between the two types of networks: the interorganizational and the interpersonal and their corresponding elements - which are the structural and processual ties and the workflow and commercial friendship ties rspectively. By proposing a new conceptualization ─ ‘a symbiotic existence’ to explain the interdependent nature of these four elements, the study goes beyond the traditional micro and macro divide to consider the multiplexity of networks in IOR.The major practical implication of this study is that the decision makers should pay attention to the changes in both micro and macro elements and their knock-on effects to ensure a symbiosis of the four elements for collaborative synergies. Practitioners’ attention should also centre significantly on the effects of interpersonal networks on collaboration and how mechanisms at macro level could be set effectively to benefit from the emerging community of practices within the collaboration.
Type of thesis
Ekanayake, K. C. S. (2015). The Symbiotic Existence of Interorganizational and Interpersonal Networks in Collaboration (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9755
University of Waikato
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