Title: Communication network dynamics in a large organizational hierarchy
Authors: Nathaniel Josephs - Yale University (United States) [presenting]
Abstract: Most businesses impose a supervisory hierarchy on employees to facilitate the management, decision-making, and collaboration. In contrast, routine inter-employee communication patterns within workplaces tend to emerge more naturally, as a consequence of both supervisory relationships and the needs of the organization. Scholars of organizational management have proposed theories relating organizational trees to communication dynamics and measures of business performance. Separately, network scientists have studied the topological structure of communication patterns in different types of organizations. However, the nature of the relationship between a formal organizational structure and emergent communications between employees remains unclear. To address this, we study associations between organizational hierarchy and communication dynamics among approximately 200,000 employees of a large software company. We propose new measures of communication reciprocity and new shortest-path distances for trees to characterize the frequency of messages passed up, down, and across the organizational hierarchy. We discuss the relationship of routine employee communication patterns to supervisory hierarchies in this company, and empirically evaluate several theories of organizational management and performance.