Network's Way of Thinking seen from a Dialectic Perspective:
Network approach was developed at the University of Uppsala (Sweden), and it is mainly known and taught in Scandinavia. It is based on the idea of connecting actors (partakers of the established network) and their activities and resources into structures, which are externally manifested as networks. Although this idea was attractive, particularly in terms of the time when this methodological approach was developed, it was not broadly implemented in business practice. In my opinion, the major reason was the lack of adequate management models. Namely, without model a theoretical concept and approach cannot be applied by managers. In either way, this methodological approach and way of thinking acted as an inspiration for my last two semesters of the attending master program in International Business Economics:
- Implications of Information Technology on the International Strategic Management Process: Virtual Company, (1996)
- International Netmodal Management Process - Internationalization Strategy for Virtual Software Companies - a Network approach (Master thesis, 1997)
As an uttmost result of this creative efforts, it was developed a dynamic (netmodal) model of business reality (1996). Since it was based on the network approach and suitable way of thinking, this topic was not methodologically considered in deeper terms of this notion. It was done in the next project study, during writing of my master's thesis (1997). Although basic ideas of the network's approach were a dimension above the strategic way of thinking, understood in terms of emphasizing the notion - trust between and among actors [(pro)active and creative participants of the established network], this approach did not manage, as a whole, to get rid of the burden of strategic way of thinking, respectively of the potential conflict-based aspects of this military (strategic) approach. At the same time, the network approach was also based on the assumption that ACTORS can use the developed relationships for the gaining access to the needed RESOURCES and ACTIVITIES. My personal impression is that this methodological approach didn't sufficiently emphasize the role of humane individuals [that means, both as human and humane beings] as (pro)active and creative participants within the created network (and the established network structure), particularly, during the process of creating of (new) knowledge, but rather the focus was put on the role group-entities in the network. In other words, it is not clear enough the (creative) role of "both the human and humane" in the established relationships, and particularly, not within the established network (you cannot see the wood for trees). Or put it in another way, reconsidering it from a methodological point of view, the network approach remained in "trouble-waters" of the crowd DIA group way of thinking. Regardless of the previously said, this approach authentically reflects the existing state and relations in the business and societal environment, and in my opinion, it can be used as a turning point towards development of a more (humane) creatively interactive approach, particularly, if it will be carried out for the good of the involved humane individual actors (partakers).
In my opinion, taking into consideration the afore exposed problems (and the corresponding challenges) in the existing hard (materialistic and physical) living and business environment, co-destiny and coexistence, understood in terms of the emphasizing of the role of co-operation and collaboration of the involved actors within the established network are ideas, which without doubt deserve a particular attention of the creators (of) knowledge. In addition to this, by the network approach was revealed the important role of the established network structures in the existing hard environment, and a kind of "necessity" for (small) actors ("fishes") to find ways TO STRUCTURE themselves into the (geo-politically) formed network structures, which are established within the suitable hard (natiocratic) environment, based on the strategic (militant) way of thinking. On the other hand, if the building of network's structures would become the self-purpose of this process of networking, in that case in a long run it would be very difficult to be made a difference between the structures, which came into being as a result of the process of structuralization DIA established relationships by means of the creative interaction of network's participants, compared to those created through various ways of acquisitions and mergers, driven by the geo-strategic way of thinking. In other words, the afore presented point of view that ideas of the network approach and suitable way of thinking are a dimension above the strategic way of thinking would become very blurred and indistinct (and from this reason as a such one destined on vanishing).
At the same time, there is an opportunity that these two divergent processes, one of them based on the geo-strategic way of thinking, the second one on the network way of thinking, will in future meet each other, and CONVERGE DIALECTICALLY in a point of time DIA space. The major idea behind this process of network's structuralization DIA building relationships through (pro)active and creative interaction of network's participants is that the mutual trust will gradually occupy its natural place, changing and replacing by this act the existing hard environment, whose major feature is MISTRUST among the actors of established networks, by a softly, more humane (working, business, living) environment. In other words, there is a hope that the existing hard environment for living, working and doing business will be made more human and humane, at least within the boundaries of the established network's structures. In either way, the existing hard (natiocratic) environment does not leave too many choices to small actors [states, companies, and particularly, not for (humane) individuals (citizens)], if they didn't manage to distinctly positioned and structure themselves within it. To be accelerated, as well as to be made easier this initiated process, international netmodal management (process) put its focus on the humane aspects and issues in the established (global) network.
Recall, the MARKNET (networked marked) is a softer manifesting of the existing hard working, business and living environment, based on the co-existence and co-destiny of actors, by emphasizing trust, cooperation and collaboration of involved actors with each other. In other words, all (key-) partakers in this creatively interacting process were networked in the (global) marknet DIA established networks structures, consisting of numerous actor-nets, fully conscious of the role of relationships in it, as well as to the relationships oriented and by these incentives driven. Such a marknet DIA established network structures of actor-nets should be developed gradually over time DIA space through implementation of international netmodal management process into business reality (practice), supported by the (re)developing netmode (strategy), which will also encompass the already observed tendencies towards a form of integration (dialectical synthesis) of the former distinctly separated notions (mediums) within time DIA space: Company (group entities) and market (mobbed entity), by putting in focus the thinking of the [humane] creative individuals, both in the role of employee DIA employer, and citizen DIA consumer, and a member of the family DIA a member of a society (or actor-nets) as well. In other words, in the (remote) future, within the created netmodal living DIA working and business environment, it is necessary a more vital and agile role of humane, creative individuals (citizens). For a successful functioning of it in the working, business and living reality, a considerably greater share of responsibility should be transferred to them.
The processes of how activities and resources between and among netmark actors are combined, developed, exchanged, created and (re)used happens in the ESTABLISHED NETWORK (marknet DIA actor-net) ATMOSPHERE. The atmosphere presents cognitive processes of the network actors, social-cultural context, attitude of the actors (individuals) towards each other as well as actors' attitudes to the ethics, risk, co-operation and collaboration, co-existence and co-destiny, to the dialectic tensions versus conflict, change, as well as their attitudes towards basic network aspects such as trust, power (distribution), (common) interests, knowledge and (inter)dependency DIA the mutual interactivity of these basic aspects of the established network. All these five network aspects are dialectically interrelated with each other, conditioning the existence of each of them, understood in terms of the COMMON INTENTIONALITY of involved partakers. On the bases of these five network aspects was developed by me a netmodal management model, which has been focused on the management of them DIA dialectical encompassing very complex (inter)relationships between and among them. Hope, you are going to observe the DYNAMIC FEATURES of the developed netmodal management model, also without the graphical presentation of it, by simply reading its specified postulates. On the other hand, if not, don't be disappointed because some professors, employed at the universities, missed to (in)see it with their "planked eyes", even during a multimedia presentation.
In either case, the author of this dynamic business model of reality has later redirected his creative potential to the dialectical features of the living reality DIA development of the suitable methodological approach (dialectical interactive approach), creatively acting DIA being transfigured in the meantime in the (role of) creator of knowledge. It is so, in spite of the fact that it might be argued that already within this dynamic model of business reality can be observed some typical dialectical features, such as the way of emergence of change within this kind of time DIA spatial creative framework: Old picture of the network DIA a new one DIA a newer picture of it DIA..... Pay also your attention that all this takes place within a creative framework of time and space, as well as that within the figure A2 (Process of Developing NetMode) can be recognized image of the "Dialectical Creative Framework for Orientation in the Eternity of Times DIA Infinity of Spaces" [not mentioning any of the notions of dialectical concept of TIME DIA SPACE], as well as the ground plan of a pyramid. Keep in mind, all this happens in the year 1996, and with development of the dialectic interactive approach, creator of knowledge BoBan (acting within me) started three years later (1999). In either way, these empirical observations were not supported with a suitable methodological approach, based on the dialectical way of thinking, because frankly said, in those time DIA space, neither I had idea about it, nor I was aware of the existence of this inner creator, nor I was aware of the feasibility that one day, me in the role of a scriber will develop a dialectical methodological approach by a "little" help of this inner creator DIA Heavenly ones.
The starting point in netmodal management model was active and proactive choosing, as well as creating in netmodal terms THE KEY (basic) elements (dialects) in the network, understood in terms of both time and space. In other words, it has to be determined, who are KEY-ACTORS with the suitable KEY-ACTIVITIES and KEY-RESORCES for building the key-relationships in purpose of connecting them into a network: Actor-net. To be established, what is the "KEY" (essential) in a network is the major task of the top management of the established actor-net. Generally speaking, as an orientation point for the selecting key elements of the actor-net is the idea and awareness that the key relationships deal with the deepening and creating (new) KNOWLEDGE DIA re-establishment of STABILITY within this re-created network (structure: the wished picture of the network in the future). According to Easton, it is clear that in networks, relationships and position (“tensions in the relationships are which keep the company in its position”, 1992, page 20) and structure and process are mutually related (“What is clear is that in networks, as in organizations, structure and process are intimately related”, 1992, page 17). As a result of that, the netmodal management model, according to me (1996), can be presented by the four interrelated dialectical netmoduls:
1. Relationship Netmodule
(relationships --> positions --> structures --> processes) = new and renewed relationships
2. Position Netmodule (positions --> structures --> processes --> new relationships) = new positions
3. Structure Netmodule (structures --> processes --> new relationships --> new positions) = new structures
4. Process Netmodule (processes --> new relationships --> new positions --> new structures) = new processes
DIA making, supporting and exploiting created changes,
DIA creating new (deeper) knowledge within the marknet
DIA actor-nets, seen as a dynamic "big picture" in time DIA space,
through further building new (renewed) relationships .... new positions .... and so on in time and space.
Netmodal Management Model
In this graphical illustration was presented the developed "Netmodal Management Model":
The basic assumptions of model are as it follows:
- The model is determined by the whole network (totality of its elements: Re, Po, St, Pr), as well as by the atmosphere in it, encompassed within this span of time and space
- The current established (picture of the) network, represented through Relationships within it, is created on the basis of initiated processes [actors develop relationships with each other through inter-exchange of processes [of providing necessary resources, (by sharing knowledge) for (faster) organising the needed activities] (Haakansson and Johanson)]
- The current established (picture of the) network, represented through achieved Positions in it, is determined by the established relationships [actors are goal oriented, trying to improve the current position in the network as well as to increase control of the network (Haakansson and Johanson)]
- The current established (picture of the) network, seen in the form of created Structures, includes positional attributes and aspects [the network of positions determines the formal network structure]
- The established (picture of the) network, represented in the form of initiated Process in it, is determined by structural attributes and aspects.
The purpose of this is to see whether these current established networks of consisting actor-nets make sense as a consistent and composite picture of the desired direction of the business of the included actors, that should be encompassed by the suitable netmode: The netmodal understanding the notion strategy (see the following figure).
Due to the focus of network approach on these network aspects, interconnected by the totality of relationships among involved actors in it, and by the suitable established positions, structures and processes of network as well, these four netmoduls, by passing time and space, have to be harmonised and synchronised with each other, with the developing netmode, as well as with the business reality (“Big Picture”). In other words, Relationship netmodule, Position netmodule, Structure netmodule and Process netmodule should provide that the developing netmode is in full accordance (harmony) with the business reality. From these reasons, the fundaments of the developed netmodal management model are:
- Process of Short-term and Long-term Development and Dynamisation: Intentionally making
continuous changes in the (Global) network together with other actors through the created Actor-nets using
Relationship net-module and Process net-module
- Process of Short-term and Long-term Stabilization of the Network: Stabilization of the network through Position net-module and Structure net-module in order to be exploited (and supported) the made changes, inseen as an business opportunity.
- Process of (continual) Short-term and Long-term Harmonization of the Network: The time horizons of
Net-modules have to be continual harmonized (Relationship net-module ---> Process net--module, Position net-module --->
Structure net-module, as well as any short-long term combination of them)
- Process of (continual) Synchronization of the initiated Dynamisation versus Stabilization of the Network (Short-term and Long-term): Because of the fact that dynamisation and stabilization are dialectical processes, contrasting and contradicting each other, there is a need for their synchronization as well: Relationship net-module ---> Position net-module and Structure net-module ---> Process net-module. The purpose of this is to be provided conditions for change (dynamics) and stability to exist simultaneously (coexist).
In other words, in which order creative actions and activities should be accomplished? Which actors and resources are needed for a successful completion (termination) of the project (task), and who will provide them? Are the established relationships, positions, structures and processes compatible with the developing netmode of involved actors (actor-nets), and with the created picture of the business reality (Great versus Big Picture) as well? And if not, what issues need to be resolved to be again brought in harmony these four net-modules by the developing netmode? International netmodal management process also should support through developing netmode already the spotted tendencies towards a form of integration the former distinctly separated terms: Company and Market. The first implication of this integration is a clear trend and tendency among actors (both humane individuals and group entities), which emphasizes cooperation and collaboration instead of the competition within the established network of markets (MARKNET), even among competitors. Here, established relationships DIA established networks of actor-nets are both a natural consequence and response to this trend (tendency). Like in the real life, every loss should be offset to be achieved a natural balance. Therefore, it might be argued that the second implication of this integration is a parallel trend that allows beside of cooperation also a manifestation of "competition" within the organization (actor-net), for example, among teams organized around projects (tasks) within an established virtual company.