Monthly Archives: August 2012

Universities as Networks of Communication

Following the constructivist view means that communication constitutes organization. As my colleague Steffen Blaschke, together with Dennis Schoeneborn and David Seidl from University of Zurich, already stated in a recent article in Organization Studies, communication episodes among organizational actors may be fruitfully analyzed by applying network methodology.

Adopting this approach, we’ve just started to analyze datasets that were gathered during a comprehensive reorganization of administrative structures and processes at Hamburg University. To elaborate our understanding about the topics of interest in central (presidential offices), intermediate (school offices), and local (department offices) administrations, we study the data as two-mode networks of topics and actors. The below charts display the most centralized (1) and the most localized school (2) at Hamburg University. Blue nodes represent organizational levels (central, intermediate, local), red nodes represent topics (here: planning and strategy related issues). Issues that matter on one or more organizational levels are connected by verticies to the respective nodes.

CentralLocalThe full networks of communication will show which administrative issues matter for different organizational actors or, put differently, what content constitutes the three levels of administrative hierarchy. By contrasting the two extreme cases, we expect to identify administrative issues that may not be centralized easily and, in turn, issues that are difficult to localize.