Кравец Максим Александрович
Воронежский государственный университет

В статье обоснованы и проверены гипотезы в отношении структурных характеристик коммуникаций предприятия.
Моделирование коммуникационной сети выполнено в рамках дихотомии "ядро - периферия". Предлагаемая модель коммуникационный сети имеет ряд отличительных характеристик: предлагает решение коммуникационного парадокса; учитывает современную тенденцию формирования управленческих команд; идентифицирует информационно значимых сотрудников на нижних уровнях управления; позволяет определить направления совершенствования структурной характеристики организационных коммуникаций.
В работе сформированы нормативные уровни развития коммуникационной сети, которые зависят от турбулентности внешней среды.


Kravets Maxim Aleksandrovich
Voronezh State University

The article tested and proved hypotheses regarding the structural characteristics of organizational communication.
Modeling of a communication network occurs within the framework of the dichotomy of the “core – periphery”. This model has a number of distinguishing characteristics that is based on current trends shaping management teams. It identifies relevant employee information at the lower levels of an organization. Finally, this model offers a solution for the communication paradox.
Forming a normative level of communication network depends on the level of turbulence of the external environment.

Keywords: Adaptation Factor of an Organization, Model Communication Network

Рубрика: Экономика

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Кравец М.А. Model Communication Network as an Adaptation Factor of an Organization // Гуманитарные научные исследования. 2016. № 9 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://human.snauka.ru/2016/09/16392 (дата обращения: 14.05.2024).


The increasing turbulence of external environments invokes high adaptability demands by an organization. Such fluid and often impromptu approaches to organizational management focuses attention on the “entrepreneurial aspects of management, change management and competition on the basis of knowledge as assets” (Katkalo, 2007, p. 456). Katkalo’s last two factors of organizational strategic success are in many respects determined by communication in which parameters and a configuration of a network is a key aspect of utmost consideration. Companies investing time and money for understanding and enhancement of their communication networks considerably increase the chances of successful organizational changes.

An organization’s communication is considered to be a key factor of its changes that can take various forms, including “adaptation to changes of external environment”, “diffusion of innovations”, “conductors of changes”, “creative organizations”, and “learning organizations”.

The creation of innovative products to these environmental changes radically depends on organizational communication. Management of said communication involves stimulation and maintenance, an intensive exchange between the organization’s staff of information with the external environments, as well as intra-corporate information flows that cross interdisciplinary borders (Henderson & Cockbum, 1994, Gargiulo & Sosa, 2016).

Organizational communication is of particular importance since such entities are considered “conductors of changes”, i.e. such entities which are capable of  identifying and performing continuously innovations, and enhance and employ them  before external circumstances demand these changes (Shirokova, 2008).

Analysis of a communication network’s representation can illuminate its true nature of interaction between individuals which can be not always visible by analyzing organizational structure and formal channels only.  For example, Wickesberg (1969) compared diagonal communication with vertical and horizontal communication. Meanwhile diagonal relationships are seldom formalized and consequently, they are not removed and analyzed separately from the organizational structure. The key problem is that “the boxes and lines of formal organizational charts mask myriad relationships in networks that crisscross the borders of functions, hierarchies, and business units” (Cross, Parise, & Weiss, 2007).


The network description of organizational communication assumes decision making in the following aspects of a network model: choice of methods of survey respondents; determination of the scheme of display of a communication network; and the allocation of key characteristics of the communication network.

The communication network can include both external and internal relationships. Undoubtedly, inclusion of external communication significantly improves the understanding of the process of idea penetration into the company, that a variety of employee interaction in an external environment is created, and that there is a possibility of determination of the individuals bringing ideas and knowledge from the external environment.

Despite the advantage of definition of external relationships in a communication network, research which includes this aspect is rare.  Similar is defined by two moments: first, essential complication of visual display of a network where various groups of the external target audiences have to be differentiated, carried in space; secondly, the absence  of a previously created list of particular external interested persons does not allow for full analysis of the external interaction.

Based on the above presented reasons and a desire to identify the individuals who are actively interacting with external environments, this paper examines a communication network with a simplified focus on external communication relationships. This simplification is analyzed through an assessment by employees of the external environment interaction integrated with target audiences.

Second, consistent with previous studies on communication networks, this paper employs a five-point scale survey scale for its analytical instrument. This scale, as opposed to the dichotomous scale, makes it possible to measure whether the power and communication relationships is sufficient to differentiate various levels of employee interaction in a network.

The survey scale type is also influenced by the direction or non-direction connections that will be reflected in the content questions inquiring about the presence of a communication relationship.

Although the directed network contains more information and allowing calculating additional characteristics, directed networks used most. This is due to the fact that most of the characteristics that are the basis for managing organizational communication (e.g. the density of connections, the centrality of individuals and centralization of network, etc) generate calculated and undirected graphs.

The proposed model is unique for it consists of a graphical representation of a communication network. The network’s topology can be identified through clusters, i.e. groups of closer interaction, and can be aligned and subsequently placed on various outer circles that correspond with the parallel increasing radius. Each subsequent circle characterizes and illustrates the extent of its removal from the main strategist (the director, being the main driving force of strategic changes) on each communication relationship.

This model places situates decision-making as its epicenter for which different elements of strategic change will emanate and its levels of involvement in the periphery process of the various organizational changes are identified. As noted elsewhere, nuclear representation is quite common for communication networks’ descriptions (see Borgatti & Everett, 1999; Totmyanina, 2011), but this model omits attention to interaction density, and on the functional characteristics of its constituent individuals. This is strategic for the graphical display of the communication network identifies and places the various employees within the overall model.  This paper utilizes the method of “snowball,” where the identification of the survey’s core elements commences with, to examine and analyze the assimilation of individuals within the core of the strategic changes.

Such core shall have the sufficient density of interaction that provides adoption of the weighed strategic decisions. The periphery in this case carries out the role of information supplier.

For a core it is necessary to calculate centrality degree as the nature of the drawn decisions as it requires not only a certain density of interaction, but also free, direct communication of core members with each other.

Although a diversity of approaches for the assessment of centralization graphs exists, this paper opted for the degree centrality as it may be applied to the calculation of core centralization. In addition, the degree of centrality can also be calculated based on the closeness centrality as well as the “betweenness” centrality.

Degree centrality is characterized by the number of direct relationships of an individual. Closeness centrality is determined by how close an individual is to all other network participants.  The “betweenness” centrality is based on the participants and the extent of control of information streams.

Distinction in approaches to the descriptions of individual centrality and centralization of a network is strongly evident in big networks; in small groups it is evident to a lesser extent.

Considering the need of the existence of direct connections between all participants of a core, the best evaluative indicator is degree centrality.

As previous scholars have noted (Kipen, Dudyashova, Denisov, 2008, Volkova, 2010), it is not enough to understand the structure of communication processes in terms of the conditions of changes that lead toward effective management of those organizational changes. It is necessary to design and create a concentric scheme of knowledge. This paper combines a display of the aligned communication network and a network of knowledge by specifying the circular radius of each individual, i.e. the designation of its importance as source of knowledge.

Formally designated individuals of a strategic core shall possess a high standard of knowledge. A check of the excess of their significance value over an average individual, one of less stature, as a source of knowledge will be one of tasks of the network analysis. Also, those individuals who do not enter the designated core but possess a high standard of knowledge (according to non-management employees) take on the significant role of lower level “cosmopolitans” in the organization. It is important to focus attention on these individuals as they are not isolated from the strategic core and may participate if external environments become turbulent.

To illustrate the proposed network mapping scheme, consider the communication network of small industrial enterprise which produces plastic caps. The company’s management estimates external environment turbulence to be 2.8 points, which is average for the company. Such turbulence according to Ansoff (1984) alls this turbulence “changing,” and identifies the following characteristics: complexity of the market environment – the developed markets; level of novelty of events – the events extrapolated; speed of changes – the average of the changes  which are accurately determined; and vision of the future – predictability. When this turbulence level exists, a company’s management will no longer suppress change. Instead, its reaction can be characterized as identifying familiar changes.  Therefore such networks shall have already developed external communications of the individuals who are entering a strategic core, and the network shall not isolate itself any more than necessary for the fastest acceptance of its processes of changes.

In Figure 1 it is possible to see the individuals entering a strategic core (evident through shading) or not. The circle’s diameter is pro rata to the importance of an individual as source of knowledge for other employees; in addition, the point has designated the individuals who are not sources of knowledge as well as external target audiences. The thickness of lines corresponds to the force of the communication. The continuous line designates the interaction in an internal communication network, and the dash-dotted line represents the interaction with external target audiences.

Based on the graphical creation of a network, all members of a strategic core are positioned within the communication network’s first circle (Circle 1).  This circle provides not only the fastest movement of information, but also the smallest losses during its transfer. As Killian (1968) and Spivak (2002) suggest, the strategic core shall not go beyond the second, outer circle (Circle 2). Circle 2 is caused by the strong information losses arising from its level information transfer.

Figure 1. Communication network

The proposed model of the communication network has a number of notable distinguishing characteristics: the solution offers a communication paradox; it takes into account the current trend of the formation of management teams; it identifies information relevant to the employees at lower management levels; and it identifies ways of improving the structural characteristics of organizational communication.

External information flowing into an organization tends to increase and subsequently leads to information overload for the firm’s management; at the same time, management also sharply recognizes the shortage of that timely and complete information. In other words, the communication paradox that is created is begins with the numerous and direct relationships that promote the inflow of timely and undistorted information that leads to the development of better decisions (thesis) while generating an overload of information that can reduce the quality of those decisions (antithesis).

In an ideal organization, the communication model illustrates the unlimited information processing abilities of individuals. The organization’s head communicates with all employees along with the greatest possible number of significant individuals from external environments.  However, it is obvious that this is impossible in actual practice. Several issues emerge, including the coverage of a variety of information sources that result from the distribution of a variety of communication between the organization’s staff, and a potential clustering of information that could impede internal interaction of an organization’s members that forms the structural backbone of a communication network.

To resolve this problem, a special configuration is warranted, one that provides for an accounting of individual’s opinions within a communication network which generates the necessary variety of external relations for information acquisition.

Despite the importance of an executive’s leadership, the company’s dynamic nature gravitates towards team work (Helfat & Martin, 2014). The executive’s leadership extends also to the other team members where the role of the head is reduced to overseeing the moderation and integration of team activities. The results of several foreign and Russian sociological polls of the top management individuals reveal the importance of forming of management teams as one of its priority tasks (Khalina, 2011; House, Dorfman, Javidan, Hanges, & Sully de Lugue, 2014).

As we consider a communication network, as well as the communication of an organization the strategic management tasks themselves need to be examined in relation to organizational changes. These tasks and changes focused closer to the top management, or the formed strategic teams that comprise a firm’s “strategic core.”  The concept of a strategic core is consistent with the functioning theory of strategic teams for the tendency to expand the structure of an individual’s strategic communication structure includes informal communication.

While the nuclear analogy as applied to the description of an organization’s communication network is used also in other works, but the core of model has addresses the functional specifics of determination as the center of discussion of strategic changes. This core shall have the sufficient density of interaction that promulgates adoption of the weighed strategic decisions. The periphery in this instance carries out the role of the information supplier.

As a result, this communication network model visualizes an organization’s staff and their interaction as knowledge sources.  The graphical display reveals experts at the lower levels of management who are not perceived by management as the significant discussion source of decisions concerning strategic changes.

Results and Discussion

This paper proves several hypotheses concerning the standard functioning of a communication network.

Hypothesis 1. The number of isolates decreases with the increase in turbulence of external environments.

The considerable number of individuals isolated from others in a communication network can lead, first, to a decline in quality decision-making, and secondly, to an increase of resistance to change. Low levels of turbulence forced obvious and peaking management decisions concerning strategic changes. Therefore the model does not consider an insignificant number of isolates within the conditions of the low level of external environment turbulence as organizational pathology. However an increase of turbulence assumes not only an increase in the number of changes, but also their distribution at all levels of organizational hierarchy. In such conditions isolates serve to deter an organization’s ability to change.

Several publications unambiguously characterize violations of integrity and an essential number of isolates as a problem for innovatively active companies and its entities performing frequent organizational changes. However, little research exists about low turbulence for these entities, and conclusions that are occasionally drawn about the drawbacks of any number of isolates is unreasonable.

Hypothesis 2. Interaction density will increase in a communication network with a parallel increase in turbulence.

Interaction density shall increase in a communication network with an accompanying increase in turbulence from external environments that is determined by a number of objective reasons. First, there is a need for a rapid response to changes that causes an increase in the frequency of interaction availability of direct connections. Second, any strengthening of an innovative activity assumes an increase in employee inclusiveness with the organizational changes.

Hypothesis 3. Interaction density in a core is significantly higher than average on a communication network.

The core of strategic changes (including top management, the organization’s specialists recognized as experts, middle managers, when strengthening turbulence warrants their participation, and lower level employees) shall have a bigger density than traditional network density that is caused by the importance of the changes for the organization, and how others accept management’s decisions.

Hypothesis 4. Centralization of a core during a high level of turbulence will be close to the level of an all-channel communication network.

Despite the broad dispersion of results of empirical research conducted about the role of networks in small groups, one conclusion about a decentralization benefit in the case of complex challenges past research which, undoubtedly, constituted the majority of organizational changes. Price errors increases significantly in  strategic decision-making that allows to hypothesize on the approximation of the degree of centralization of the core communication network to the networks of the “strongly connected graph” or “all-channel,” i.e. about the complete decentralization of interaction between core individuals.

Hypothesis 5. The number of peripheral individuals in t a communication network that has  external relationships increases with the level of turbulence of an external environment.

Traditionally a company’s top management has the developed external relationships, carrying out a role of cosmopolitans within the organization.  At the lower levels of Russian companies insignificant attention has been paid to the availability of developed external relationships. However, as shows experience of functioning of the modern foreign companies, external relationships of middle-level management. In addition, communication relationships of employees and lower-level management can influence flexibility and innovation of the overall organization. As a result, this paper makes a hypothesis of increasing interaction with an external environment by peripheral employees of a communication network when the external environment’s turbulence strengthens. The increasing number of communications resulting from an eclectic mix of individuals is determined by their distinctions in the professional and social sphere will result in the organization acquiring diverse information. At the same time weak external employee relations of employees on the periphery of a communication network can significantly exceed the information generated from strong external management relationships and play a significant role in situations  of the high level of turbulence when reaction to changes must be instantaneous.

Hypothesis 6. At high levels of turbulence the number of the actors of a core have stronger external relationships on average significantly above, than at their usual levels.

A company’s top management is an integral part of a core of a communication network, in many respects a lateral i.e. assumes close communication with colleagues and partners (Mintzberg, 2011). Therefore the assessment of core employee communication of a communication network with the generalized external target audiences shall be at rather high level in case of any strong turbulence with the external environment.

The made hypotheses are checked on twelve firms. The basic statistical data characterizing an organization’s employee communication interaction concerning organizational changes are provided in tab. 1.

Table 1. Statistical data on the firms

Characteristic of external environment / communication network

№ firm*













Turbulence, point













Percent of isolates in a network, hypothesis 1













Density of a network (point), hypothesis 2













Interaction density in a core (point), hypothesis 3













The degree of centralization
core (%), hypothesis 4













The percentage of peripheral individuals with external ties, hypothesis 5













The percentage of core individuals  with strong ties (%), hypothesis 6













* – The firms getting to a zone of high turbulence i.e. where the level of turbulence is more than 3.5 points are italicized

When checking hypotheses 1, 2 and 5 the statistical criteria of the significance of the correlation coefficient were considered. A check of a hypothesis of equality of averages for two indicators (Student criterion) was applied to hypotheses 3, 4 and 6. Statistical investigation confirms the paper’s hypotheses (table 2).

Table 2. The results of testing of statistical hypotheses

Hypothesis Criterion Statistics criterion Critical at α=0,05 Result of checking
1 The significance of the correlation, and r<0 3,914 2,228 The hypothesis is accepted
2 The significance of the correlation, and r> 0. 7,103 2,228 The hypothesis is accepted
3 Student 7,837 1,717 The hypothesis is accepted
4 Student 2,771 1,943 The hypothesis is accepted
5 The significance of the correlation, and r> 0. 9,198 2,228 The hypothesis is accepted
6 Student 3,545 1,812 The hypothesis is accepted

In addition, statistical investigation of the communication interaction not only reveals the interrelation of turbulence and network characteristics on a dichotomy “core – periphery”, but also creates a tool of expert evaluation of a development level in a communication network (table 3) that can be considered as the independent diagnostic tool, and as the constituting complex diagnostics of organizational communication.

Table 3. Characteristics of a core and periphery of a communication network


Repetitive Expanding Changing Discontinuous Supriseful

Intraorganizational communication: core

The core centralized; the low density of interaction in a core The core centralized; interaction density in a core average The core decentralized; interaction density in a core average The core decentralized; interaction density in a core high The core decentralized; interaction density in a core high

Intraorganizational communication: periphery

Periphery contains a significant number of isolates A small number of isolates in the periphery; low density interactions in the periphery Absence of isolates in the periphery; low density of interaction in the periphery; existence of single bridges between employees of different subdividings Absence of isolationists in the periphery; average density of interaction in the periphery, high density of interaction within a cluster; existence of a median number of bridges between clusters Absence of isolates in the periphery; average density of interaction in the periphery, high density of interaction within a cluster; existence of a large number of bridges between clusters

External communication: core

External relationships are present at a core only at the head At the core are identified external relationships from other core actors The essential number of actors of a core has strong external relationships Most of actors of a core has strong external relationships Most of actors of a core has strong external relationships

External communication: periphery

External relationships of the periphery are absent Weak external relationships at single representatives of the periphery Weak external relationships at essential number of representatives of the periphery External communication are observed at most of actors of the periphery;

there are actors with relationship level above feeble

External communication are observed at most of actors of the periphery;

the essential number of actors has relationship level above weak


The offered model of a communication network allows scholars to understand the structure of communication interaction of individuals, and to allocate specific communication roles. Visualization of a communication network of value judgments of knowledge by employees specifies their influence on the processes of organizational changes. Allocation within strategic cores and the centering of display of individuals allows to check the accomplishments of basic requirements to the structure of communication that center on organizational changes.

The diagnostic tool created for the examination of organizational communication allows for communication network problems to be revealed by specific individuals. At the same time their expertise is important, and resulting with the complete characteristics of a network to be examined, including the  percent of isolationists, the interaction density in a network and in a core, the centralization and decentralization of a core, and the external relations of individuals of the periphery and a core. Further analysis is warranted in several areas, including a variety of external organizational relations, the density of intra organizational interaction, increases in the number of bridges, and the decentralization of communication interaction with increase of turbulence of the external environment.

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