An organization chart may show us the formal hierarchical structure and reporting levels, but lacking the information showing the informal social relationships. It is a mathematical and visual analysis of relationships/flows/influence between people, groups, organizations, or other information or knowledge processing entities.
Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a Knowledge Management tool that can give insights to social capital potential. The main characteristic of the SNA is to focus on the structure of relationships, whether it is formal or informal.
By mapping and measuring the formal and informal relationships, SNA can help to understand what facilitates or inhibits the flow of knowledge between units of analysis such as who-knows-who and who stream through any media and information. Because the application of social relationships are not easily detected, SNA is often attributed to “organizational x-ray”.
Currently, SNA applications are widely used, not only in business organizations but also in several other areas such as psychology, health, crime, intelligence and electronic communications.
- Develop social networks of people.
- Connecting people and creating organizational networks.
- Explore and develop new ideas.
- Sharing and creating new knowledge.
- Enabling organizational learning.
- Augmenting new forms of organizations made possible by information technology.
- Creating ad hoc teams to solve time-critical problems.
- Providing better technical assistance.
- Developing social capital.