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Visaualizing relatonics - a management tool for supporting distributed innovation?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Mälardalens högskola.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many Swedish municipalities struggle today with increased expenses, financially and socially, due to a high youth unemployment. Youth unemployment can be described as a complicated task in the meaning that several stakeholders are involved, and many times there is a need of individualized solutions to meet the needs of single individuals. In order to cope with such a complicated task municipalities face the challenge to create new innovative ways of organizing work. One such way to organize work is to develop distributed competence networks running in and between organizational units. A major challenge for managers is how to understand and lead such distributed competence networks.      

The research literature give evidence for the importance of social relations and of work-integrated competence networks surrounding work tasks, what we in this paper refer to as relatonics, in order to understand the reality of an organization. However, when it comes to visualizing an organization the standard image is the organization chart, an image that depicts the formal structure and lines of decision of a single organization, but leaves aside informal structures and cooperative processes. This image tends to affect how people understand their organization, and also, influences managers’ actions regarding organizational change and development issues. This turns especially problematic when it concerns complicated problems, such as youth unemployment, which for an adequate problem solving needs multiple competences cooperating and therefore is difficult to limit to a single unit or even a single organization. The argument of this paper is that there is a need to shift thought and action paradigms in order to establish favourable conditions for the competence networks required in complicated tasks.

The paper is based on tentative analysis from an ongoing project aiming at developing a tool for visualizing relatonics that can be used as a management instrument and support managers understanding and work with organizing distributed competence networks. So far in the project the empirical material mainly consists of a social network analysis of a complicated task, i.e. decreasing youth unemployment, situated in a small Swedish municipality. Tentative analysis of the material reveals a relatively distributed competence network, i.e. a relationic running in and across municipality units as well as across to other organizations. Still, the task in many respects is managed as being part of a single unit, resulting in a lack of coordination and in sub-optimization. Through visualizing the relatonics of the task of decreasing youth unemployment an additional image of the organization emerge; an image that in many respects deviates from the standard image of the organization chart. In the paper we conclude by pointing at the possibilities of using visualizations of the relatonics as a management tool for distributed innovation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Relatonics, visualization, management tool, workplace innovation
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90035OAI: diva2:622147
International HELIX Conference 12-14 June 2013, Linköping University
Available from: 2013-05-20 Created: 2013-05-20 Last updated: 2013-08-14Bibliographically approved

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