What is it about?

The purpose of this paper is to provide an experiential learning exercise that develops student understanding of social networks within organizations. Understanding these networks can foster complete access to information and inclusive decision-making that translates into career success. The game-like environment created by this exercise helps extend real-world understanding that may traditionally be lost with a lecture. Components within this simulation provide balanced consideration for many different learning styles.

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Why is it important?

The exercise described in this article is intended for students to recognize the connectivity and stretch of networks so that they can engage in their organizations more effectively. This network simulation teaches students about various connections between contributing nodes of information within an organization and helps them to recognize how to use strong and weak ties in an organization. During this exercise, students will watch as the classroom’s social network is laid out on the board so that they can then mirror the process and illustrate their own networks. Throughout this activity and again during the debrief, discussions about the types of ties and the reach of the spiderweb of connections that unfolds encourage students to contemplate social network theory in terms of how information is used to make decisions within an organization. Finally, the act of building and completing the puzzle represents the utilization of an organization’s network to engage all functions and expertise to enhance extending into those weak ties to problem-solving, collect complete information and deliver a comprehensive product, solution or other initiatives.

Perspectives

Organizations have internal social networks connecting employees. These connections are how information is dispersed and knowledge is shared. When these networks are understood and effectively used, it can result in more comprehensive problem-solving, valuable collaboration and the maximization of subject matter expertise within the organization.

Professor Robert M Yawson
Quinnipiac University

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This page is a summary of: Enhancing student understanding of networks using experiential learning, Organization Management Journal, November 2020, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/omj-05-2020-0930.
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