This article reviews the literature on networks and, more specifically, on the development of community telecommunication networks. It strives to understand the collaboration needed for innovative projects such as intelligent networks. Guided by a change management framework, collaboration within a community network is explored in terms of the formation and performance phases of its development. The context, content, and process of each phase is analyzed, as well as the interaction of the two phases. User involvement and technology appropriation are discussed. Collaboration challenges are identified and linked to the sustainability of the community network. Policy makers are presented with a model that gives some insight into planning and managing a community network over time.
Telecommunication Networks As An Example Of Collaboration
Collaboration is the pooling of resources (e.g., information, money, labour), by two or more stakeholders or partners3, to solve a set of problems, which neither can solve individually (Gray, 1985). It involves an interactive process whereby organizations, using shared rules, norms, and structures, act or decide on issues related to a problem domain (Wood & Wood, 1991). The intentional goal-oriented collaborative arrangement that emerges is that of a network (Poyhonen & Smedlund, 2004).
Networking represents a particular form of organizing or governing exchange relationships among organizations and is an alternative to markets and hierarchies (Ebers, 2002, p. 23). Network partners maintain their autonomy and retain residual property rights over their resources that have been pooled to achieve mutually agreed outcomes (Bailey & McNally-Koney, 1996; Brown et al., 1998; Gray & Hay, 1986; Huxham & Vangen, 2000; Oliver & Ebers, 1998). The principal coordination mechanisms for allocating resources are negotiation and concurrence. Informal social systems, rather than bureaucratic ones, coordinate complex products or services and reduce uncertainty (Jarillo, 1988; Jones et al., 1997).