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Title: Analysing technology & innovation in complex networks : processes, dynamics, and development of multi-level interorganisational networks
Author: Mass, Lena M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 4598
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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There is still very little known about network dynamics (Bell et al., 2006), especially when focusing on interorganisational networks (Provan et al., 2007). There is also limited empirical evidence on leadership within these complex network contexts (Davenport, 2005; Osborn et al., 2002). This thesis addresses these limitations by developing a theoretical framework for process leadership in the complex, often unpredictable and turbulent context of the interorganisational networked ecosystem. Understanding the complexity of networks and leadership is crucial to advancing network research, which this study aims to accomplish. Although previous studies indicate leader characteristics and behaviours (Huxham & Vangen, 2000), less evidence on the processes and dynamics of leadership within networks exists. Few studies have longitudinally examined the multiple boundaries and multi-level interactions within a complex interorganisational network, as the unit of analysis, as this thesis achieves. Moreover, little research has been conducted to understand network leadership processes, which represents a major gap in the network theory and complexity leadership literatures. In order to address these gaps as well as the gap between the two literatures, this thesis presents a comprehensive, longitudinal case investigation of network process leadership (NPL) within an interorganisational network embedded in the British National Health Service (NHS). By analysing processual dynamics, this thesis’s contribution is the foundation of a preliminary NPL framework. Based on analysing a public sector healthcare network over time, the findings emphasise four dominant thematic constructs surrounding NPL that emerged as highly significant: leveraging strategic system stressors and turbulence; adopting focal and non-focal roles; maximising social proximity; and the complementary, reciprocal formal and informal coproduction of leadership. These constructs provide the empirical and analytical grounds to help explain the critical leadership processes that drive a complex, interorganisational public sector network. Significantly, social capital dimensions underlie these interrelated higher order themes; thereby affecting wider inter-organisational network processes. As a primary contribution of this thesis, I argue that social capital is the critical concept linking network and complexity leadership theories, in order to provide a better understanding of NPL. The findings suggest network leadership calls for NPL and its relational, collective, facilitative approach involving social capital among multiple participants in a complex interorganisational network context. This is highly differentiated from studying unidirectional effects of a hierarchical, central leader within a single organisation. Theoretically, I argue the importance of social capital in the complex nature of leadership processes within interorganisational networked contexts. The research contributes to an understanding of how networks and social capital can be adapted or created by formal and informal leaders within networks to reflect changing processes to shape practices and network-wide development over time. Finally, I offer several operational mechanisms policymakers and network leaders could pragmatically employ to manage, lead, and facilitate interorganisational network processes. Overall, the significance of this study involves: filling gaps in the literature, offering a longitudinal case study on an interorganisational network over time, providing a foundation for theoretical development on leading in networks, illuminating insights into professional leadership within networks, and identifying policy and practical implications for leaders and managers.
Supervisor: Dopson, Susan; Sauer, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Management ; Operations management ; Science and technology (business & management) ; Organisational behaviour ; complex interorganisational networks ; network theory ; complexity leadership ; network process leadership ; social capital ; technology adoption ; National Health Service