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Universität der Bundeswehr München

Informal Networks in Enterprise Social Networks


Traditional companies often define their internal structure by departments, locations or business units, which are often visualized as organizational charts. However, people communicate and collaborate across these organizational boundaries. As a result, so called informal networks emerge. In contrast to formal company structures, informal networks are structures which are not defined by companies or management. They are based on informal relationships among employees like talking to each other or working on the same project. These informal networks heavily influence employee performance or satisfaction and are part of every organization. So knowing and understanding these informal networks can yield huge strategically advantages for companies. This has long been an objective of organizational research. However, with the increasing use of so called Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) like Jive or Yammer, new ways to communicate are created which in turn lead to new types of informal networks. At the same time such tools automatically provide huge data to analyze these structures.

The goal of this thesis is to make a significant contribution to an ongoing research project which aims to develop a method to identify and analyze informal networks in Enterprise Social Software.
You will be able to get a deep view into companies from various sectors (e.g. finance, engineering or aeronautics). After building a solid theoretical foundation you can put this knowledge to the test when developing an approach to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data via means of social network analysis (SNA) and other methods. You will also be able to put your creativity to work by creating network graphs and meaningful visualizations.