Network Level Strategy Essays On The Great

I have two Master’s degrees from leading universities in the UK, an MSc International Marketing Management and an MSc in Management. My first Master’s degree was achieved in 2004 and the second one was completed in 2009. I do like to observe new trends and changes in the practical and theoretical world of business to develop new ideas for my PhD proposal. I plan to pursue PhD study in the near future. Currently, I am working for a leading hospitality firm in London at a supervisory level. I like my main job, but I love academic business writing.

Strategic Management of the BBC

SRATEGIC MANAGEMENT

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC): Investigate Business, Corporate and Network Level Strategy, Industry, International Context and Organisational Context, and Organisation Purpose.

Strategic Management of the BBC

The dimensions of strategy and organisational purpose involve strategic process, strategic content, and strategic context and each of these three are not different parts of strategy. Firms operate to fulfil a purpose and adopt strategies to ensure that their purpose is accomplished. To achieve such outcomes, companies need strategic process, which is associated with how strategies will be formulated, implemented and controlled, as well as with who needs to be involved and when necessary activities should take place. In contrast, strategic content is involved with what is, and should be, the strategy for companies and each of their business units (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). Strategic context is concerned with where strategic process and strategic content can be embedded within firms and in which type of environment.

However, each of these strategic problems are by their very nature three-dimensional, possessing context, process and content, and it is only by analysing each dimension within each problem that companies will develop in depth comprehension. Therefore, this essay aims to examine strategic dimensions, using the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a framework. The BBC is the UK-based public service broadcaster whose purpose it is to serve in the interest of the public’s benefit instead of for purely commercial concerns (Hastings, 2004). The dimensions of strategy which will be investigated in this essay include strategy context, organisational purpose and strategy content.

With respect to the organisational purpose of a company, it can be defined as the reason for which a firm exists. Without organisational purpose it would be difficult for firms to evaluate strategic options since organisational purposes can function as fundamental principles against them (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). It is necessary for companies to have an organisational purpose as it can provide a strong guide during the process of strategic thinking, strategy formulation, and strategy change. Organisational purpose comprises of two different perspectives, profitability and responsibility.

In the case of the BBC, its organisational purpose falls under social responsibility, which involves acting in the interest of others even when it is not legally bound to do so. The organisational purpose of the BBC has largely remained unchanged over the last 80 years, in both an analogue and now a digital age: it is to “enrich the life of every person in the UK with programmes that inform, educate and entertain” (BBC website, 2007). The corporate mission of the BBC consists of three elements: organisational beliefs, organisational values and business definition (Rarick & Vitton, 1995). The organisational belief of the BBC involves important assumptions about the nature of the environment within a communication industry where digital TV is dominated by pay-to-view channels. Thus, the BBC strives to make its programmes more mainstream in order to cultivate its reputation, increase its audience numbers and to drive effectively towards digital take-up.

The BBC’s organisational values are formed by The BBC Trust’s committee who determine what they see as worthwhile activities, ethical behaviour and moral responsibilities. This has a huge impact on its strategic direction. The BBC has created its corporate governance values in six main ways: promoting education and learning, reflecting the UK’s nations, regions and communities, supporting citizens and civil societies, bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK as well as delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communication technologies and services (BBC website, 2007). Therefore, this indicates that the business direction of the BBC has a social rather than a commercial focus.

The BBC exists to fulfil the demand of its stakeholder values. The main stakeholders of the BBC comprises of the Government, the public and BBC employees. The Government wishes to see the BBC as secure with a steady stream of income and to be distinctive in an age of growing choices. BBC employees expect to see the BBC provide them with health and safety in the workplace, which can lead to their commitment to the organisation, both emotionally and practically. The public have a right to expect great things from a great cultural institution such as the BBC. Obviously the BBC cannot please everyone within the market segment, nor should it seek to do so. However, in return for each licence fee it receives from the public, it has a responsibility to deliver experiences of quality and value. Therefore, without a doubt, the BBC is the foremost cultural institution in the UK and the world’s most well-known and highly regarded international brand (Meech, 2001).

Strategic context is about relating organisations to their environment. It is necessary for firms to take the entire outside world into account, focusing on the direct environment in which they need to compete (Leiva et al., 2006). Firms mainly track and monitor the trends of industry developments because of the rules pertaining to what must be done by these firms in order to survive within their chosen line of business. In other words, they decide what the conditions are of the competitive game that will be played (De Wit & Meyer, 1999).

The strategy context dimension comprises of the industry context, organisational context and international context of the BBC. Firstly, industry developments mean that the structure of the industry changes and as Porter (2000) clearly explains, the five important factors of industry development (i.e., competitors, buyers, suppliers, new entrants and substitutes), whether individually or in combination, are necessary for this change to occur. In the industry context in which the BBC operates, the communication industry, development is rather dynamic.

The communication market is in the hands of only a few companies (Henson, 2005) and the industry is being overwhelmed by a handful of large communication firms, largely due to mergers and acquisitions. Several communication firms form and share a part in the market, or obtain a share through merging with existing companies in the industry (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). The communication industry is in a state of fermentation and fluctuation. The Digital Age is characterised by a series of acquisitions, mergers, takeovers, and of alliances and deals. This is because companies make every effort to assess the core competencies they require and to then acquire those which they believe they need for survival.  For instance, Virgin merged with Telewest and NTL to launch its new communication brand, Virgin Media.

The BBC cannot influence the structure of the communication industry because it cannot control technology development which impacts upon the communication industry. Thus, compliance with the rules of the game is a vital strategy for the survival of the BBC in the Digital Age (Changes to schedule at the BBC, 2005). Under the concept of compliance, the strategic demand is for managers to adapt the organisation to the industry context (Berman, 2004). The BBC understands the circumstance in the communication industry, where the Digital Age has taken over from the Analogue. Thus, to achieve compliance with the industry rule, it has developed structures, processes and a culture in which observing and adapting to the environment has become essential (Allen & Helms, 2006).

In compliance with the new communication industry rules in the advent of the Digital Age, the BBC has complied with industry rules by developing structures, market orientations, processes and culture. In 2006 under Lord Burns, the BBC Trust committee reviewed the role of the BBC and its activities within the Digital Age, resulting in the launch of two important documents: Building Public Value – reviewing the BBC for a digital world and a Government progression report on the progress towards digital switchover (BBC website, 2007). The BBC’s position within this Digital Age is hands on and wide ranging. It perceives itself as taking a key role in creating a fully digital Britain. In 2002, the BBC was quick to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the downfall of ITV Digital, thus allowing the BBC to begin constructing its Freeview platform. By 2003, the BBC had created a set of six digital channels, including BBC News 24, BBC Parliament, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, and CBeebies (Harris & Wegg-Prosser, 2007).

Secondly, at the organisational context level, the BBC has both management control and organisational chaos. Top management control requires leaders or managers to be able to direct development within the organisation. Leaders need to have the power to make the necessary change in the organisational structure, processes and culture to fit the organisation to the demands of environment. The BBC Trust uses its leadership influence in an attempt to guide organisational development, using cultural areas to direct its influence towards achieving strategic change. To be able to change the organisation, the BBC Trust has changed people’s beliefs and associated behavioural patterns (Drejer, 2000).

At the same time, a transitional organisation like the BBC also allows a certain amount of organisational chaos by using the organisational dynamic perspective and allowing bottom-up communication from its workers. Organisational chaos unfreezes existing structure, process, routine and beliefs, allowing people to be creative and come up with out-of-the-ordinary initiatives (Shin, 2006). The BBC Trust might be independent when making decisions, but it has always taken into consideration the responsibilities and risks which its journalists and staff encounter whilst doing their jobs and allows them to give opinions regarding the strategic vision, so that they can have a share in the process of vision development.

Thirdly, in an international context, the BBC has to meet a demand for global synergy and a demand for local responsiveness. Under the concept of global synergy, a firm can achieve cross-border synergies by leveraging resources, integrating activities and aligning product offerings in more than one country. In the case of the BBC, it uses synergy by leveraging resources (Thompson, 1996). The BBC uses a resource replication strategy by sharing its tangible products. The practices of the BBC can be described as global convergence with the use of standardisation.

The BBC has employed standardisation as a way to deal with the border-crossing nature of its international markets. Standardisation is an easy way for the BBC to jump across border synergies as it enables the BBC to do the same thing in each country without any pricey adaptations (Cole, 1997). This is because the English language is an international language which most people around the world can understand. Therefore, people in other countries can watch and understand the content on BBC World Service, which will be repeated sporadically to fill the gap between time differences in each continent. Thus, BBC content can be perceived as a global product because the processes employed to widen the BBC’s global accessibility reduces international variety (Woods, 2005).

With regards to strategy content, this refers to the product of a strategy process. Strategy content involves what should be strategies of the organisation and each of its strategic business units (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). Strategy content comprises of three levels: business level strategy, corporate level strategy and network level strategy. Firstly, business level strategy is associated with both market adaptation (outside-in) and resource leveraging (inside-out). The BBC focuses on the market adaptation perspective (outside-in). Market adaptation involves adapting to the environment and new market conditions of a firm. It is necessary for companies to respond to shifts in such factors as customer preference, competitor moves and distribution structure (De Wit & Meyer, 2005).

In recent years, pay-to-view homes tend to watch fewer high-brow programmes such as the News, Current Affairs, serious factual programmes and the Arts. Consequently, the BBC has related itself to its business environment, balancing the distance between pay-to-view channels and fulfilling the demands of consumers by providing both high-brow and low-brow programmes via its different channels. Examples of this include BBC News 24 which also runs overnight 24-hour News on BBC One, whilst CBBC is an educational channel for children aged 6–12-years-old. This creates a competitive advantage for the BBC over pay-to-view channels as it differentiates itself from rivals by fulfilling its organisational purpose to inform, educate and entertain the public (Eryl-Jones, 2003).

Secondly, the successful corporate level strategy of the BBC involves both synergy and business responsiveness. Moving towards another business can result in increased stakeholder value if three essential tests are achieved: attractiveness test, cost-of-entry test and better-off test. Multi-level synergy firms need to create more added value than the extra costs of managing a more complex organisation (García-Murillo, 2005). Thus, multi-level synergy firms need to see opportunities for synergy between business areas and manage a company in such a way that synergies can be recognised.

The BBC is obviously a portfolio organisation because it has developed specific strategies for each business and allocates the responsibility for each business strategy to a separate strategic business unit. This means that each of the strategic business units of the BBC can respond effectively to the competitive dynamics in the communication industry, while being a clear unit for liability to the corporate centre (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). The BBC has been integrating the activities of each business unit by sharing the value-adding activities of its content distribution channel: each BBC channel advertises each other’s upcoming programmes to increase audience numbers.

For example, the BBC’s policy is to use the Internet to complement the full range of the BBC’s output, and to extend the profundity, interactivity and smooth accessibility of BBC content (Kavanagh, 2004). The BBC also intends to open up its treasure box, the world’s largest radio and television archive. This will allow people to download and keep extracts or programmes for non-commercial purposes. The BBC has also developed this initiative in partnership with other major public and commercial audio-visual collections in the UK. This shows that the BBC has created linked relations with other firms, both upstream and downstream, because it needs a variety of inputs, as well as clients, to access its variety of programmes.

At the same time, BBC On Demand has been developed to provide viewers and listeners with access to recent radio and television programmes on the Internet. This service has recently been extended to cover television programmes. The BBC has launched a new easy-to-use service called the ‘iPlayer’, which enables audiences to access a week’s worth of catch-up TV via personal computers, thus allowing free downloads of their television programmes for up to seven days after transmission. This shows that the corporation’s distribution of BBC business units achieves equal attention and so an optimum set of its businesses are integrated into the corporate whole, thus building the brand name through its own product alliance.

Thirdly, network level strategy involves both competition and cooperation. Inter-organisational competition can be explained as the act of working against others. This is labelled as the discrete organisation perspective and refers to the fact that each organisation is being attacked by its environment (De Wit & Meyer, 2005). Under this market condition, firms will be fighting for a larger market share. To be competitive, a company must have the power to overcome its competitors and must have the ability to use its power. The main rivals of the BBC are satellite broadcasters like Sky Television, Time Warner’s CNN, Fox News Channel and STAR TV which is owned by The News Corporation. STAR TV (Hong Kong) is the main distributor used to broadcast BBC content in many Asian nations, with the noted exception of China where political enforcements restrict or prohibits this type of material.

One of the most important factors that can shape the power of an organisation is its relative resource dependence. This also applies to the BBC which remains strong and independent as a cultural institution of real size and scope (Greenley, 1989). To maintain the obligation requirements of public broadcasting in the Digital Age, the BBC does not only broadcast minority programmes, it is also seen as the keystone of public broadcasting given that commercial broadcasters have also met public broadcasting requirements.

It can be concluded that the BBC’s organisational purpose is for social rather than commercial interests. However, the development of the communication industry has moved from an analogue towards a digital era which is mainly influenced by a three-phase revolution: free-to-air dominant, but pay and multi-channels on the rise – free-to-air in decline, with pay dominant and broadcasting increasing – and broadband and on-demand dominant. These developments have influenced the BBC to move towards a digital platform. Inter-organisational relationships with other firms, inside and outside the industry, have ensured that the BBC maintains its competitive position within the communication industry and exists to accomplish its organisational purpose.

References
Books
Cole, G. 1997, Strategic Management, Continuum, London.

De Wit, B. & Meyer, M. 1999, Strategy Synthesis, International Thomson Publishing,
London.

De Wit, B. & Meyer, M. 2005, Strategy Synthesis, International Thomson Publishing,
London.

Greenley, G. 1989, Strategic Management, Prentice Hall, London.

Porter, M. 2000, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analysing Industries and Competitive, Free Press, New York.

Journal Articles
Allen, R. & Helms, M. 2006, ‘Linking strategic practice and organisational
performance to Porter’s generic strategies’, Business Process Management,
vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 433-454.

Berman, S. 2004, ‘Media and entertainment 2010 scenario: the open media company
of the future’, Strategy & Leadership, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 34-44.

‘Changes to schedule at the BBC: How will it handle job cuts and media
speculation?’, 2005, Strategic Direction, vol. 21, no. 8, pp. 12-14.

Drejer, A. 2000, ‘Organisational learning and competence development’, The
Learning Organization
, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 206-220.

Eryl-Jones, L. 2003, ‘Playtime all the time: CBeebies, a case study’, Young
Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers
, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 3-
9.

García-Murillo, M. 2005, ‘Regulatory responses to convergence: experiences
from four countries’, Info, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 20-40.

Harris, M. & Wegg-Prosser, V. 2007, ‘Post bureaucracy and the politics of forgetting:
The management of change at the BBC, 1991–2002’, Journal of
Organizational Change Management
, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 290-303.

Hastings, C. 2004, ‘Discussion of performance measures in public service
broadcasting’, Aslib Proceedings, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 301-307.

Henson, J. 2005, ‘Factors that inhibit economic development in the information and
communications technology industry at the regional level’, Management
Decision
, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 317-330.

Kavanagh, J. 2004, ‘The BBC Written Archives’, Records Management Journal, vol.
14, no. 2, pp. 78-84.

Leiva, M., Starks, M. & Tambini, D. 2006, ‘Overview of digital television switchover
policy in Europe, the United States and Japan’, Info, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 32-46.

Meech, P. 2001, ‘Corporate trails: Relationship building and the BBC’, Journal of
Communication Management
, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 188-193.

Rarick, C. & Vitton, J. 1995, ‘Corporate Strategy: Mission Statements Make Cents’,
Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 11-12.

Shin, D. 2006, ‘Convergence of telecommunications, media and information
technology, and implications for regulation’, Info, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 42-56.

Thompson, G. 1996, ‘Communications assets in the information age: the impact of
technology on corporate communications’, Corporate Communications: An
International Journal
, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 8-10.

Woods, L. 2005, ‘Broadcasting, universal service and the communications package’,
Info, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 29-41.

World Wide Web

BBC, 2007, BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2006/2007. Retrieved: March 7, 2008,

By
Michelle Maiese

September 2005

What is Networking?

It is not just "what you know," but also "who you know" that can be a source of strength. What is the extent to which community members, especially leaders, know persons (and their agencies or organizations) who can provide useful resources that will strengthen the community as a whole? Read more here.

Networking is a matter of creating useful linkages, both within and among communities, organizations, and societies, in order to mobilize resources and achieve various goals. [1] One author describes it as the "art of building alliances." [2]

Networking occurs at a variety of levels. At the level of neighborhoods and communities, it is a matter of creating reciprocal relationships with other members of society. In many instances, parties meet informally to share a meal or hold a casual meeting. They often share resources, contacts, and information with one another. As a result of these conversations and newly found connections, individuals often find jobs and freelance work, locate apartments, trade services, and develop cooperative strategies.

Some common examples of networking activities include attending trade or professional association meetings, volunteering for community work, visiting with other members of one's social clubs or religious groups, posting messages on mailing lists, and talking to other people in one's community. [3] Networking contacts are often found through friends, extended family, alumni associations, former bosses, and members of the various clubs, religious groups, or other organizations to which one belongs. [4]

Many professionals have increasingly relied on Internet chat rooms, networking websites, and online forums to discuss recent developments in their occupation or field and ask questions of each other. Those looking for employment typically find that networking is one of the most effective ways to find a job. In many villages in less developed parts of the world, establishing social contacts is important for individuals who need to locate money and resources or seek information about where seasonal workers are needed. [5] Networking also allows individuals in many countries to form groups so that they may qualify for loans from banks. Networking is also an important component of community organizing. This requires that diverse members of the population build relationships, share resources, and work together in an organized way for social change. Networking can occur among members of a single organization or social group, among people from many different communities and identity groups, and among organizations. [6] It is a matter of forging connections with other individuals or groups who face similar problems and issues and want to work together toward solutions. These social connections allow individuals, groups, and organizations to find allies, access tools, share practical wisdom, and build collaborative strategies. Networking thus helps those working for social change to share resources and information, devise an agenda, and engage in collective action within their society. [7] For example, local activists and those working in the field of peacemaking will find it useful to make contact with other grassroots organizers to coordinate efforts, learn what has already been done on the issue, and discuss what has and has not worked. Likewise, it is important for organizations to make contacts with other agencies, groups, and individuals that might support their work in direct or indirect ways.

Like coalition building, networking is grounded in the notion that people who pool their resources have a greater ability to advance their interests. Connections formed through networking can be useful in broadening the research and knowledge base of social campaigns and generating new resources and backing for their efforts. Establishing alliances also makes it easier for organizations to gain help from support groups and allies who support their goals. Insofar as those who coordinate their activities and share resources have a greater chance of success, networking often empowers groups and helps to give people a real voice in decisions that affect them. Through networking, individuals also may develop relationships with third party neutrals as well as adversaries, which ultimately may make it easier for them to come to some sort of agreement in current or future disputes.

Networking at the National and International Levels

In addition to the networking that takes place among individuals at the local level, there are national networks that bring together local organizations, religious groups, community groups, trade unions, and hospitals. The types of networking that commonly take place at the national level are civic engagement and multi-stakeholder participation. Civic engagement is a matter of interaction between civil society organizations and governments so that they can build constructive relationships and bring about social, economic, and political change. Likewise, rapid advances in media, telecommunications, and computer technology have facilitated wide sharing of information among multiple civil society stakeholders. Partnerships among these diverse individuals, groups, and organizations have proven to be an effective way to advance development projects and reduce poverty within communities. [8]

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) has opened national networks in ten countries and equipped these offices with electronic communication equipment. The national offices support the organization of civil society groups as cohesive forces for peace building and good governance. Two other countries -- Guinea Bissau and Benin -- are being equipped with additional support from Catholic Relief Services (CRS), thus bringing to twelve the total number of national networks of organizations active in conflict prevention and good governance programs in West Africa. Available here.

For example, the Nicaraguan Community Movement (MCN) is a national network of community-based organizations that provides training, accompaniment, and legal advice to community groups. Local and national authorities recognize the MCN as a representative voice of civil society. [9] Such civil society networks offer opportunities for increased communication among diverse groups and often give weight to community demands. Often this generates broad public participation and further networking among citizens in local communities. [10]

Networking also plays a key role in peacebuilding efforts and has great potential to strengthen the capacity of the peacebuilding field as a whole. Because a diverse group of people and organizations work in the fields of conflict resolution and peacebuilding, there are often heavy needs for coordination. Involved actors include local governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, development organizations, conflict resolution groups, local peacemakers, and citizens. All of these actors have different backgrounds, cultures, and interests, and in some cases some of them are not even aware of each other's existence. [11]

To remedy this, several European countries have established national platforms on peacebuilding. These networks help to create an infrastructure for an effective system of collaboration and coordination. Their activities include the organization of national meetings and regional consultations in order to allow for information sharing and communication among a wide number of actors. In addition, these networks enable collective lobbying and advocacy activities that can encourage the allocation of public resources to the task of building peace. For example, they can participate in educationaland media activities that increase awareness about the importance of conflict prevention. [12]

At the international level, the European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation is a network of organizations working in the field of conflict prevention and resolution. It aims to include a wide range of participant organizations throughout Europe and to support the establishment of national networks. One of the useful aspects of these national and international platforms is their clearinghouse mandate, which allows for a wide exchange of information. The European Platform has published an international directory that lists 500 conflict management organizations and information about their activities as well. This enables people to know what other actors are doing in which regions so that human rights, peace, development, and humanitarian NGOs can coordinate their efforts. Likewise, the Great Lakes Policy Forum is an international network that involves collaboration among government and nongovernmental officials to discuss sensitive issues and collect early warning signals. [13]

The Horn of Africa NGO Network for Development (HANND) is a network of indigenous civil society actors and NGOs in the Horn of Africa, which began networking among themselves in 1997. In March 2000, at a regional meeting in Djibouti, the participants in HANND decided to establish themselves as a legal and formal regional network. This network allows for communication among civil society leaders and allows participants to share useful information about conflict prevention, food security, and capacity development. [From: http://www.hannd.net/ ]

Increased international networking might allow actors to exchange information about the evaluation of initiatives, lessons learned, and surveys done. As a result, the field as a whole may become stronger, more structured, and less scattered. These networks also have the potential to raise awareness, both among the general public as well as those working in the field, about the scope of conflict resolution activities and infrastructure that is already in place. [14]

In addition, international networking can help to build a global constituency that supports violence prevention, coordinates advocacy and lobbying efforts, and initiates educational and media projects. It is important for peacebuilders to develop partnerships with local people who can provide guidance, feedback, and support. [15] These networks bring together actors who live in specific conflict areas with those who operate from abroad. Local parties can assist with training, help external actors to solve problems, and generate new ideas as fresh challenges emerge. Networking also helps to develop trusting relationships among multiple actors and gives local groups a chance to talk to members of foreign governments and NGOs. For example, through the training of trainers program in Burundi, external trainers networked with local actors to evaluate ideas about training and peacebuilding.

Networking has also played an important role in the realm of research, education, and scholarship. Partnerships and linkages among scholars and institutions allow those in postgraduate and professional communities to share existing knowledge about development and enhance conflict resolution education and research. These initiatives, many of which rely on online learning, seek to bridge some of the knowledge gaps between developed and developing countries. The Internet increasingly offers a powerful and low cost means of international networking so that organizations can share observations and knowledge to profit from each other's wisdom.

For example, the United Nations University's Food and Nutrition Programme for Human and Social Development links up scientists and food and nutrition institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The goal is to disseminate knowledge and support capacity building activities across the globe. Similarly, the aim of the World Forests, Society, and Environment Research Program is to conduct research on world forests and environment in order to support sustainable forest development and ensure the well-being of local populations. [16] This global research program involves networking among international and national forest research institutes and individual researchers throughout the world. Forums are held to allow for discussion and increase the dissemination of information. This increased collaboration links researchers from developed and developing countries, strengthens the overall research capacity of the field, and allows for more widespread access to research findings.

Why is Networking Important?

Individuals, groups, and organizations that have developed strong connections with a variety of support groups and allies typically are more able to achieve their objectives.

Networking is important for a variety of reasons, many of which already have been mentioned above. At both the individual and collective level, networking is a strategy of empowerment. As a result of networking, organizations and individuals are able to apply political pressure at the local and global level in support of their goals. Networking aids in organizing and mobilization, empowers civil society groups, and enables poor and powerless individuals to have a stronger voice in the processes of decision-making. [17] This is because having a strong set of social connectionshelps parties to organize lobbying and advocacy activities at the national, regional, and international level in order to bring about needed social changes. This typically involves challenging adverse laws, restructuring power relations, and bringing about policy changes. Through such joint efforts, parties are often more capable of influencing the future of their communities.

At the international level, networking can also help to unite actors who live in a specific conflict area with those who operate from abroad. Two examples of this type of international coalition are the Horn of Africa Program and the Great Lakes Policy Forum. The Forum involves informal collaboration among government and nongovernmental officials to discuss sensitive issues. It helps to collect early warning signals, develop relationships built on mutual trust among multiple actors, and give local groups a chance to talk to members of foreign governments and NGOs. [18]

Networks also help to unite people at the local level with people at the global level as they work toward their shared goals. For example, Diverse Women for Diversity (DWD) is a network that partners indigenous women with professional lobbyists to "work towards crucial issues that are being decided upon at UN-Conferences on world trade, sustainable agriculture, biotechnology, and biodiversity." [19] The network is increasingly engaged in international negotiations surrounding peacemaking and economic globalization.

In addition, people from diverse backgrounds who have faced a variety of struggles come together to advance their common objectives. This facilitates interaction between people in different parts of the world and allows them to recognize both their differences and their commonality. As a result of networking with others both inside and outside their social groups, disenfranchised members of society can realize and extend their power.

Women Living Under Muslim Law (WLUML), for example, is a network that brings together women from throughout the Muslim world to challenge adverse laws. While these women may live in very different contexts, Muslim laws affect all of them. The joint support of women from a variety of contexts helps to facilitate initiatives against discriminatory laws and policies. [20] Forming such connections with people both inside and outside their immediate social group thus allows less powerful individuals to gain influence within their society.

Because networks offer opportunities for increased communication, they have the potential to become a sort of international civil society out of which can emerge different kinds of strategies and projects. Development Alternatives with Women for New Era (DAWN), for example, is a network of activists, NGO workers, and academics committed to addressing the important issues that face the majority of women in Third World countries. Major aims of this international network are social transformation and empowerment. In many Asian countries, networks among civil society organizations, citizens, and community groups, play an important role in development projects. Networking among multiple stakeholders allows for the sharing of information and knowledge that is important for poverty reduction and economic development. As a result of new advances in media, telecommunications, and computing, there is potential to share this information with a broader audience of development stakeholders. [21] Good networking also helps to build trusting relationships among parties and allows for the sharing of resources so that groups can bring about important social, economic, and political changes. Networking is also an important part of human rights monitoring. Guarding against human rights abuses requires the active sharing of information and cooperation among human rights partners and local actors. To accomplish this task, networks of civil society groups that include NGOs, church groups, women's groups, and youth organizations need to be nurtured. Linkages among human rights monitors and local organizations help to build relationships of trust so that that a greater amount of high-quality information is shared among human rights groups, religious groups, church organizations, trade unions, and hospitals. [22] Regular meetings can be held to allow all of these actors to share information and advice, which can lead to constructive thinking and new solutions.

Networking Abilities

The preceding discussion suggests that networking is an important part of collective action at the local, national, and international levels. It serves to empower individuals, communities, and organizations so that they may achieve their goals. It seems clear, then, that the ability to network effectively is an important skill for people to possess. What sorts of capacities are needed for effective networking?

Strong networkers need to be able to develop rapport with a wide variety of people. Typically they have the respect and trust of their fellow citizens so that others listen to them. They demonstrate sincere concern and curiosity and actively seek out information and knowledge. [23] In addition, they have developed an understanding of how groups and institutions relate to each other and are aware of how different sectors of the community function within the social system. They are outgoing and friendly and stay in contact with other people in the network on an ongoing basis. A good networker should be skilled at calling people "to assembly," have strong listening skills, and be adept at organizing activities. [24]

In addition, they will be proficient at some of the activities that are central to networking. These include collective lobbying, information sharing, coordinated advocacy, and the initiation of innovative educational and media projects. Good communication skills and knowledge about mass media are also helpful.


[1] Phil Bartle, "Elements of Community Strength," Seattle Community Network, available at: http://www.scn.org/cmp/modules/mea-ele.htm#S Networking

[1] Phil Bartle, "Elements of Community Strength," Seattle Community Network, available at: Networking

[2] "Networking and Your Job Search," The Riley Guide, March, 2005, available at: http://www.rileyguide.com/network.html

[3] ibid. [4] Barbara Reihnhod, "Why Networking?" Monster.com, available at: http://content.monster.com/career/networking/bigdeal/

[5] Judit Katona-Apte, "Coping Strategies of Destitute Women in Bangladesh," United Nations University, available at: http://www.unu.edu/unupress/food/8F103e/8F103E06.htm

[6] "Community Organizer's Guide," Ability Maine, available at: http://www.abilitymaine.org/rosc/cog.html [

7] ibid.

[8] "Project Concept: Knowledge Networking for Empowerment and Development," knownetasia.org, The Foundation for Media Alternatives, available at: http://www.fma.ph/knownetasia/project-concept.html

[9] "Bringing Citizen Voice and Client Focus Into Service Delivery: Nicaraguan Community Movement," Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, available at: http://www.ids.ac.uk/ids/govern/citizenvoice/pdfs/nicaraguacm.pdf

[10] http://www.fma.ph/knownetasia/project-concept.html

[11] Paul J.M van Tongeren, "The Challenge of Coordination and Networking," in Peacebuilding: A Field Guide, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2001), 510.

[12] ibid., 512. [

13] ibid., 511. The European Platform has now expanded to become global in scope, forming the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. (See http://www.gppac.org/ for information.)

[14] ibid., 515.

[15] Kent Arnold, "The Challenge of Building Training Capacity: The Center for Conflict Resolution Approach in Burundi," in Peacebuilding: A Field Guide, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2001), 284.

[16] "How Can Global Research by WFSE Sustain Forest Development?" The World Forests, Society, and Environment Research Program, United Nations University, available at: http://www.unu.edu/env/forests/forum-satmeet.htm

[17] "Community Building Through Convening," Island County Public Health and Human Services, available at: http://www.islandcounty.net/health/convene.htm#Networking

[18] van tongeren, 517.

[19] Vathsala Aithal, "Empowerment and Global Action of Women: Theory and Practice," Working Papers, Kvinnforsk, University of Tromso, available at: http://www.skk.uit.no/WW99/papers/Aithal-Vathsala.pdf

[20] ibid. [21] http://www.fma.ph/knownetasia/project-concept.html

[22] Karen Kenny, "Human Rights Monitoring: How to Do It and Lessons Learned," in Peacebuilding: A Field Guide, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 2001),205.

[23] http://www.islandcounty.net/health/convene.htm#Networking

[24] ibid.


Use the following to cite this article:
Maiese, Michelle. "Networking." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September 2005 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/networking>.


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