Do Networks Make a Difference? Exploration of Working Processes in a European Humanitarian Network


Most of the current studies focusing on network organizations analyze how interorganizational networks are created, how they develop and how they overcome the limitations of rigid and ill-adapted bureaucracies. This paper proposes a different stance and empirically studies how work is concretely carried out in NGOs network in order to assess the specificity of this new organizational space. The paper proposes a fine-grained analysis of the biggest humanitarian NGO network in Europe, VOICE, where the author spent eight months doing field observations and interviewing the network's staff and European policy-makers. The results presented here explore the nexus between work and organizations in terms of innovation, framing and mimicry processes, organizational culture, power asymmetry and organizations' pathologies. First of all, networks face difficulty to innovate. Through isomorphism, network's staff members tend to copy the structure and functioning of organizations they consider successful. Moreover, one of the key tasks of the permanent secretariat of a network is to create a specific organizational culture, which can bring rival organizations together. Finally, the research shows that networks can suffer from the same pathologies affecting other organizations in terms of power asymmetry and path dependence. These findings suggest that in future research about interoganizational networks, they also need to be considered as a workplace in order to fully understand the specificities of these new organizational spaces.

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@inproceedings{Egger2012DoNM, title={Do Networks Make a Difference? Exploration of Working Processes in a European Humanitarian Network}, author={Clara Egger}, year={2012} }