The Role of Networks in Fundamental Organizational Change

Posted on by Brandon Klein

The Role of Networks in Fundamental
Organizational Change
A Grounded Analysis
Susan Albers Mohrman
University of Southern California
Ramkrishnan V. Tenkasi
Benedictine University
Allan M. Mohrman Jr.
University of Southern California


Utilizing a grounded-theory approach, this study examines 8 organizations and finds that
social networks make a difference in the capability of organizations to implement funda
mental organizational change. Specifically, this study examines whether networks enable
the learning required for local units to develop the new schemata—understandings, behav
iors, and interaction patterns—required to adopt and appropriate planned organization-
wide change. A mixture of organization-wide and local learning networks in organiza
tions successfully implemented change, whereas the unsuccessful organizations relied
primarily on hierarchical change implementation networks. In accelerated change units
compared to those that are lagging, a greater abundance and diversity of networks, strong
and weak, internal and external, and across system levels were found. These network
connections facilitate change implementation not only by sharing information but also by
providing the capabilities to exchange and combine knowledge and by enabling local