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Monday, September 06, 2004

Its not what you know, but whom you know for enduring success via First Monday

Ethnographic research on personal social networks in the workplace, suggests that traditional institutional resources are being replaced by resources that workers mine from their own networks. Social networks are key sources of labor and information in a rapidly transforming economy characterized by less institutional stability and fewer reliable corporate resources. The personal social network is fast becoming the only sensible alternative to the traditional "org chart" for many everyday transactions in today's economy.The old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know," could, paradoxically, be the motto for the Information Age. The emergence of personal social networks as the main form of social organization in the workplace is very significant. A dazzling new battery of communication technologies enables workers to connect to diverse, far-flung social networks. The seemingly sudden appearance of people in restaurants talking into their cell phones, the smash success of the Palm products, the increasing use of instant messaging at the office, the chirp of pagers in meetings - all herald the intense moment-by-moment communication activity of workers plugging into their social networks.Two related trends led to these developments: the rapid pace of organizational change in businesses, and enhanced access to sophisticated communication media, including the Internet. The many manifestations of organizational change - downsizing, outsourcing, merging, splitting, acquiring, partnering, and the constant redrawing of internal organizational charts - lead to a situation in which it is less and less easy for workers to reliably turn to established role-based structures in their companies when they need labor or information. These very structures either no longer exist, or are themselves in flux. The trend toward reduced access to institutional resources is intensified by the increasing importance of independent contractors, consultants, and small business owners in today's economy.Read on. An interesting article.
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