Playing Virtual Power Games: Micro-Political Processes in Inter-Organizational Networks

Playing Virtual Power Games: Micro-Political Processes in Inter-Organizational Networks

Monique Janneck (Luebeck University of Applied Sciences, Germany) and Henning Staar (University of Hamburg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsodit.2011040103
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Although virtual organizations and networks have been studied, there is still need for research regarding their inner dynamics and the mechanisms of leadership and governance. This paper investigates micro-political processes i.e. informal actions of individual actors to gain power and exert influence, which is a well-researched concept in traditional organizations with respect to inter-organizational networks. This study investigates structures and strategies of power within virtual networks. Results show that micro-political tactics known from research in traditional organizations are used in inter-organizational settings. Additional micro-political tactics, specific to virtual networks, are identified. The latter are related to the use of information and communication technology (ICT). A second quantitative study surveyed 359 members of inter-organizational networks on their use of micro-political tactics. Results confirm that micro-political strategies are widely used in virtual networks. The degree of virtuality was associated with the use of certain tactics. Possible implications for the structure and governance of virtual networks and the design of the technology that is used to support virtual cooperation are discussed.
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Virtual Networks

Virtual organizations can take various forms (Travica, 2005). However, most definitions agree that virtual organizations are forms of “inter-organizational, cross-border ICT-enabled collaboration between legally independent entities, usually with a specific economic goal” (Pitt, Kamara, Sergot, & Artikis, 2005, p. 373).

Beyond those basic properties, virtual organizations can vary considerably regarding the stability of membership and participation and also regarding the duration and goals of the cooperation.

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