Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) is an approach for examining the patterns of relationships that arise among interacting individuals or groups within and across organisations.

ONA provides an analytical method to examine various characteristics of these patterns and to draw inferences about the network or about those belonging to it. Mapping organisational networks provides an invaluable insight into the informal and invisible patterns of interactions such as flows of communication and collaboration that exist between individuals or groups. By capturing the rich data from these processes, organisations are able to understand how these invisible networks may impact their operational and strategic performance.

Key Facts

    • Individuals, groups and organisations are enabled and constrained by the multiplex networks of often informal and invisible interactions in which they are embedded.

    • Rooted in graph theory, ONA is focused on uncovering hidden patterns of relationships within and across organisations.

    • ONA provides a systematic approach to examine how the position of individuals, groups or organisations within the collective arrangement of network relationships as well as the nature and quality of these connections can influence their behaviour and performance.

    • This approach has been shown to impact organisations’ efficiency by identifying communication breakdown risks as well as the vulnerabilities to turnover. Similarly, ONA facilitates innovation and organisational change by identifying silos and engaging employees with significant relationships across multiple boundaries.

Impact of our research

Network analysis reveals the reality of how people are connected (or not), irrespective of hierarchy, role and governance. Mapping the organisational networks identifies four different types of actors:

  • Value creators: individuals (or groups) who are top sources of novel ideas
  • Influencers: individuals (or groups) who significantly affect others
  • Bottlenecks: individuals (or groups) that limit the performance of the organisation
  • Boundary spanners: individuals (or groups) who bridge communities and cross multiple boundaries

Network analysis can also help organisations to connect to others that can enhance innovation potential or create resilient and agile end-to-end value networks. Mapping interorganisational networks in which firms are embedded identifies:

  • Strategically important relationships that can support innovation, agility and operational excellence
  • External actors with high operational criticality with significant impact on network disruption and resilience

Why the research was commissioned

Our research addresses the issue of how the structural and relational properties of organisational networks might affect the strategic performance and behaviour of the embedded individuals or organisations at single and group levels.

We use our Organisational Network Analysis tool to map and analyse the relationships of a client organisation with a focus on their key strategic issues. This enables us to look at the relationships between key internal and external individuals or groups in this specific organisational issue. Individuals on a Cranfield programme discover their position within the network and the impact they are having, and gain a view of the overall relationships of actors involved in the issue. This yields actionable insights and measureable business impact. At an inter-organisational level, this allows the examination of appropriate governance models to support effective inter-organisational collaborations.

Whilst previously ONA data could only be captured retrospectively (via surveys, interviews or analysis of documented communications such as email exchanges), advances in wearable technologies now allows the capture and real time analysis of sociometric data on how interaction patterns impact organisations both internally and externally.