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On the Fast Track to Recovery: A Social Network Perspective on Leader Brokerage Change, Intra-Organizational Communication Patterns, and Business Adaptation During Crisis

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2021-03-18

On the Fast Track to Recovery: A Social Network Perspective on Leader Brokerage Change, Intra-Organizational Communication Patterns, and Business Adaptation During Crisis

Guest: Ning Li, Professor, University of Iowa

Host: Prof. Chen Jingqiu, Antai

Time:Thursday, Apr 15th, 2021,  10:00-11:30

Venue: Zoom (for conference number and password, pleas send email to orgmgt@acem.sjtu.edu.cn by 12:00, Apr 14th)

Abstract:

Major catastrophic events, such as the COVID-19 global pandemic, can significantly disrupt and devastate businesses and, as a result, understanding how organizations adapt to crises is critical. However, we know surprisingly little about how organizations actually adapt, particularly regarding the micro-level processes organizational members use to collectively respond to disruptions. Extending theories of network brokerage and both small world network and organizational adaptation research, we develop and test a theoretical model to explain how intra-organizational communication patterns drive organizational adaptation and business recovery in a multi-unit enterprise during COVID-19. Using qualitative interviews, multi-wave network surveys, and objective business unit growth indicators in 111 chain restaurants with over 3,000 employees, we found that compared to leaders creating structural holes in intra-organizational communication networks (i.e., a “tertius gaudens” strategy), those leaders bridging structural holes (i.e., a “tertius iungens” strategy) built more effective communication networks with greater network cohesion and higher network efficiency. Optimal network structures further facilitated business unit adaptation to the pandemic and drove business recovery with faster customer growth trajectories and continually decreasing personnel costs. An effective organizational communication network also displayed a small world network architecture, suggesting that this paradigm can be used to better understand organizational effectiveness.  

Bio:

Ning Li is a Professor and Pioneer Research Fellow in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at The University of Iowa. Prior jointing the University of Iowa, he received a bachelor’s degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in management and received his Ph.D from Texas A&M university. His current research interests include big data in management, organizational network analysis, team collaboration, team leadership, and proactive phenomena in organizations. His work appeals in many top-tier management and psychology journals. Currently, he serves as an Associate Editor of Journal of Management (2021-2023). He is also the in-coming Deputy Editor of Management and Organization Review (2022-2025). In 2020, he has been recognized with the Distinguished Early Career Contributions-Science Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

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