The power of networks and knowledge specialization

Written on May 17, 2007 by Néstor Miranda Carús in Innovation

Néstor Miranda Carús
In the last decade, the importance of knowledge workers and integration networks has increased significantly. We are living a new era of globalization through communication and people interaction, and that is making traditional functional and even matrix organization designs obsolete.
Traditional functional organizations were designed to optimize the allocation of resources and the operational effectiveness of industrial corporations. Professional employees were grouped by functional area, putting all the specialized knowledge to work together and with very little contact with colleges in different departments. Communications between departments was restricted to the top executives in each area, and as companies started expanding into new businesses this organization first became divisional and later with international expansion it became multinational, transnational an finally a territorial/product matrix.
In this complex organizational environment, every knowledge worker has created his own internal and external cross functional interaction network and knowledge shared by employees or by groups of professional with different backgrounds is becoming the new form of specialization that makes every individual inside an organization a valuable asset.
Individuals and groups have the product and market knowledge and are the only ones that can bring innovation and open new markets for the company they are working for.
Companies are now starting to understand the value of these specialized multi-functional networks and realizing its strategic potential. Many enterprises are now adopting a global organizational design and using the best specialized resources no matter where they are located and encouraging them to expand their functions and start bringing in the innovative ideas that will help firms launch new business initiatives.


Artem May 27, 2007 - 3:36 pm

Informal Peer to peer (P2P)networking is common practice in big corporations operating in matured markets. However, suppose, such networking mainly create benefits for individuals other than for corporations? Matured industries use traditional organization structures to maintain costs efficiency therefore it is a bit hard to imagine how those structures can be changed to bring P2P networking for value creation. I am working in matured industry and would be interested to know examples of successfull companies who use benefits of P2P networking.

Rubén June 15, 2007 - 1:20 pm

One of the benefits of networking is the sharing of best practices. I work in Vodafone, in a more than mature market, and the company encourages mobility of people to make p2p networks for sharing knowledge. I’m taking part in a 3 months programme abroad, and, according to HR, the project I’m working for is just a tool for meeting people and learning new ways of working. Creating a global network is the main deliverable of the project.

Javier Sanz January 11, 2008 - 8:50 am

Probably that’s true if you consider large organizations, although what is being promoted is a kind of internal knowledge networking. This is no so clear if you start considering this networking outside the frontier of the companiy. Even tahat there are managers recognising the non tangible value of these networks and as a non written policy they close their eyes. Surprisingly one of the most competitive and secrecy research is at the same point in time pushing forward the extra company cooperation (I mean biotechs and farma)

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