INTRAORGANIZATIONAL POWER RELATIONS AND INFORMAL SOCIAL NETWORKS: A RESEARCH ON THE FOOD INDUSTRY
Resource dependence theory considers intra-organizational actors’ relationships in a social context and it emphasizes the political processes within the organization (Pfeffer, 1981). However, obvious and particular strategies cannot be developed in the theory of resource dependence, as in inter-organizational relations in managing dependence relations within the organization. In this respect, the examination of the network embedded in the social structure is important for managing power and dependence relations in organizations. In the literature, which is also expressed in the theoretical section (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1974; Salancik and Pfeffer, 1974), it is expressed that the actors use social networks in the management of dependence relations in the power imbalance resulting from resource dependence among organizational units (Gargiulo and Ertuğ, 2014). Moving from these studies, the current study was motivated by the question: "Are the power and dependence relations between the subunits in organizations managed by social networks?".
- 1. RESEARCH SUBJECT
Resource dependence is a theory that explains how organizations that are open systems get resources that are the key to maintaining their existence (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1974; Salancik and Pfeffer, 1974). This theory is based on the organizations that are treated as political constructs, the relations with the environment, and the concept of power that reveals dependence relations in organizations as well as dependence relations that emerged during resource acquisition. The concept of power in the theory of resource dependence is the determinant of organizational behaviors both in the relations within the organizational processes and in the relations with the actors in the decisions and in the external environment. Taking into account that decision-making processes in organizations have a political character and that organizations can be perceived as a coalition in a political sense, this study examines the power and dependence relations among the sub-units of organizations.
- 2. RESEARCH PURPOSE AND IMPORTANCE
The main assumptions of the resource dependence theory were considered in the study and power and dependence relations were evaluated within the framework of Pfeffer's (1981) view. This theory, which treats organizations as political constructs, suggests that sub-units controlling critical resources in organizations will gain power within the organization and that other sub-units will develop dependence relations with these sub-units. The qualities and characteristics of network relations emerging as a result of power and dependence relations among sub-units in organizations and social relations among sub-units which are subject to the social capital were evaluated within the frame of the theories of centrality and structural holes suggested by the social network theory. In order to be able to make these evaluations, the level of analysis has been determined as intra-organizational sub- units.
- 3. CONTRIBUTION of the ARTICLE to the LITERATURE
Despite an increased emphasis on resource dependence theory and social network theory in the academic literature, there have a limited understanding of the mechanisms that social networks among the sub-units of organizations (Brass, 1984; Brass and Burkhardt, 1993; Burkhardt and Brass, 1990; Fombrun, 1983; Krackhardt 1990; Tushman and Romanelli, 1983). Therefore, it is thought that addressing social networks among the sub-units of organizations within the internal power and dependence relations from the perspective of resource dependence theory will contribute to the related literature.
- DESIGN AND METHOD
The proposal put forward in the study was tested on a holding operating in the food sector and the area of Turkey's top 500 large enterprises. This holding has been chosen in the research design due to business groups that were described as " dominant economic actors" (Gökşen and Üsdiken, 2001: 326; Üsdiken, 2008: 9; Dirlik, 2014: 10) and these holdings are among Turkey's top 500 enterprises in the first rank. Within the scope of this holding, the power, dependency and social relationships among the sub-units of the holding were examined. In this context, the network relationships that emerged as a result of interdependence relations in the present organization were compared qualitatively in terms of centrality, structural holes or brokerage role.
- 1. RESEARCH TYPE
Although qualitative methods are preferred in some studies for measuring power and addiction relationships (Hall, 1972; Pennings, 1973; Lodahl and Gordon, 1973; Salancik and Pfeffer, 1974; Provan et al., 1980), the objective and subjective measurements of a particular concept do not measure the same phenomenon, subjective evaluation based on the perceptions of the participants and their conclusions about these results and the quantitative method was preferred to evaluate the relative perceptions of the participants relative to each other in the study (Provan et al., 1980: 210).
2.2. RESEARCH PROBLEMS
Proposition 1: Organizational sub-units tend to be central position in their social networks to minimize the high dependence and power imbalance that occurs during the resource acquisition.
Proposition 2: Organizational sub-units tend to be brokerage role in their social networks to minimize the high dependency relationships that result from power imbalance.
- 3. DATA COLLECTION METHOD
In this study, which aimed to examine the power and dependence relations among the sub-units in the organizations through social networks, the position generator technique was used as data collection method. Sub-units and managers were determined in the organization that was examined in the research and data were collected within the whole network. In preparation of questionnaire toward identifying power, dependence, and social networks; one-item questionnaires were used.
- 4. QUANTITATIVE / QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS
In order to test the proposition of the study, social network analysis was utilized centrality and brokerage measurements used in network analyses for each subunits. We compared the results of in-degree and out-degree centrality, structural hole and pure brokerage for each organizational actor and sub-unit, and assessed the position of the actor in the social, power and dependence networks.
- FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
3.1. FINDINGS as a RESULT of ANALYSIS
It has been determined that information technology, administrative, finance and general food sub-units have high out-degree centrality in power and dependence networks and high in-degree centrality in social network. It can be stated that these sub-units have a high dependence on other sub-units within the organization and are less powerful position than other sub-units. It can be said that the Information Technologies, Finance and Administrative sub-units manage the power and dependence relations by using the advantage of being both central and brokerage position in network relations. It was determined that the Feed Business Unit has a brokerage role in social networks in order to minimize high dependence relations. It can be said that Information Technologies, Food Quality and Human Resources sub-units manage their social relations with their pure or lean intermediary role in minimizing power imbalance resulting from power relations.
3.2. DISCUSSING the FINDINGS with the LITERATURE
In the literature, which is also expressed in the theoretical section (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1974; Salancik and Pfeffer, 1974; Beyer and Lodahl, 1976; Salancik and Pfeffer, 1977; Hills and Mahoney, 1978; Astley and Zajac, 1990; Gargiulo, 1993; Sözen and Yeloğlu, 2009), it is expressed that the actors use social networks in the management of dependence relations in the power imbalance resulting from resource dependence among organizational units (Gargiulo and Ertuğ, 2014). The results of the research are similar to the studies in the literature.
- CONCLUSION, RECOMMENDATION AND LIMITATIONS
4.1. RESULTS of the ARTICLE
It can be argued that sub-units use social networks to manage power and dependence relations due to the fact that sub-units are centrally located in social networks or choose ways to improve their social relations. Considering the structural hole analysis results of sub-units, it can be stated that they manage their dependence relations with their structural holes, but they have a pure brokerage role in their social relations only for power relations.
4.2. SUGGESTIONS BASED on RESULTS
This study deals with intra-organizational relationships, which are not an intensive study area, and assesses these relationships through social network analyses considering social networks form the strengths of the study. In this direction, it is considered that this study will make contribution empirical studies, which are relatively limited, toward Resource Dependence Theory. In this research we evaluated intra-organizational power and dependence relationships through social networks. Future research may develop factors to determine power and dependence relations from different angles. Also a future research can examine this issue from quantitative study methods such as deeper interview, semi-structured interview.
4.3. LIMITATIONS of the ARTICLE
This study has various limitations. First of all, this study was carried out only one business since the generalization power of the results of study remains weak. Hence, it is not possible to claim that the power and dependence relationships between subunits in every business were managed through social networks. Another limitation of the study is that social relationships are evaluated through only subunits and actors in organization. At this point, it is possible for the people from private lives of actors to mediate the relationship between actors. However, since reaching this information may be perceived as violating the private lives of people, the study was only carried out in the framework of the actors in the organization.