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Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism
Unformatted Document Text:  Functionalism Revisited 11 Network Analyses as a Methodology Since the approach mainly focuses on relations and positions among actors (groups, organizations, industrial sectors, and even states and nations), it oftentimes employs structuralist or functionalist perspectives. According to Blau (Calhoun et al., 1990), one of the major structuralism approaches defines social structure as a configuration of relations and positions. This definition is swiftly parallel to that of the network analysis. Cook and Whitmeyer (1992) point out that both (network analysis and exchange theory) take a structural position because they share the same views on individuals and structure. Stern and Barley (1996) acknowledge that except for the current movement toward the structuration position – institution as a “taken-for-granted norms,” or as “structures mandated by either the culture or powerful actors” – general sociological approaches to organizational study, including network analysis, tend to follow some variations of open system theory. However, some researchers carry out different theoretical stems. For example, Haines (1988) advocates an individual model based on Giddens’ Structuration. Gulati and others (Gulati, 1995; Gulati & Gargiulo, 1999) also posit a similar view in their research. Rice and Gattiker (2000; see also Rice, 1987) acknowledging the importance of Orlikowski’s argument (duality of communication technology, 2001), point out that communication and information system (CIS) in organizational settings should be understood through meanings and relations associated with them. Burt’s positional approach. Burt advocates a positional approach to corporate networks. His basic assumption is that organizations strive for autonomy (Burt, 1982). His model predicts the relative freedom that firms in an industrial system can exercise within the constraints imposed by its role relations. More specifically, firms of status may enjoy high structural autonomy to the extent that the structure ensures the high competition of their positional status members and low competition with others. Being able to detect the formation of such relationships through network analysis methods (hierarchical cluster analysis, for example, identifying structural equivalent groups within industry), Burt points out that an interlocked directorship between firms (one or more person sitting on the board of directors for both firms) might allow one firm to absorb the market transactions of the other firm; hence enriching its profits; and argues that it is the evidence of integration of economic elite (Burt, 1976; Burt, Christman, & Kilburn, 1980; Burt, 1992). The same logic underlying cooptation of organizations can be applied to organizational success. Specifically, Burt argues that the number of the non-redundant ties of an organization to segmented groups might become an indicant of the organizational position and its success – if a firm positions itself between two segmented network groups and establishes a link to each group, the firm will be more likely to succeed. Illustrating this, Burt calls it a “structural hole,” and points out that (1) market competition

Authors: Kim, Hyo.
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Functionalism Revisited 11
Network Analyses as a Methodology
Since the approach mainly focuses on relations and positions among actors (groups, organizations,
industrial sectors, and even states and nations), it oftentimes employs structuralist or functionalist
perspectives. According to Blau (Calhoun et al., 1990), one of the major structuralism approaches defines
social structure as a configuration of relations and positions. This definition is swiftly parallel to that of
the network analysis. Cook and Whitmeyer (1992) point out that both (network analysis and exchange
theory) take a structural position because they share the same views on individuals and structure. Stern
and Barley (1996) acknowledge that except for the current movement toward the structuration position –
institution as a “taken-for-granted norms,” or as “structures mandated by either the culture or powerful
actors” – general sociological approaches to organizational study, including network analysis, tend to
follow some variations of open system theory. However, some researchers carry out different theoretical
stems. For example, Haines (1988) advocates an individual model based on Giddens’ Structuration.
Gulati and others (Gulati, 1995; Gulati & Gargiulo, 1999) also posit a similar view in their research. Rice
and Gattiker (2000; see also Rice, 1987) acknowledging the importance of Orlikowski’s argument
(duality of communication technology, 2001), point out that communication and information system
(CIS) in organizational settings should be understood through meanings and relations associated with
them.
Burt’s positional approach. Burt advocates a positional approach to corporate networks. His basic
assumption is that organizations strive for autonomy (Burt, 1982). His model predicts the relative
freedom that firms in an industrial system can exercise within the constraints imposed by its role
relations. More specifically, firms of status may enjoy high structural autonomy to the extent that the
structure ensures the high competition of their positional status members and low competition with others.
Being able to detect the formation of such relationships through network analysis methods (hierarchical
cluster analysis, for example, identifying structural equivalent groups within industry), Burt points out
that an interlocked directorship between firms (one or more person sitting on the board of directors for
both firms) might allow one firm to absorb the market transactions of the other firm; hence enriching its
profits; and argues that it is the evidence of integration of economic elite (Burt, 1976; Burt, Christman, &
Kilburn, 1980; Burt, 1992).
The same logic underlying cooptation of organizations can be applied to organizational success.
Specifically, Burt argues that the number of the non-redundant ties of an organization to segmented
groups might become an indicant of the organizational position and its success – if a firm positions itself
between two segmented network groups and establishes a link to each group, the firm will be more likely
to succeed. Illustrating this, Burt calls it a “structural hole,” and points out that (1) market competition


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