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Project EISON

External and Internal Supervision Methods and Modalities for Organizational Networks Addressing Complex Societal Issues

Addressing complex societal issues requires collaboration in organizational networks. Organizations also collaborate to achieve collective outputs they cannot achieve on their own to further their own missions like developing and delivering (new) services and products, combining their sales efforts or jointly creating ecosystems that provide customers with complementary goods and services. However, collaboration as such is no guarantee for successfully addressing complex societal issues. In addition, organizational networks are a complex organizational form that can create risks for the participating organizations. Classical hierarchical governance and accountability concepts are challenged in this context because they are based on the assumption of autonomous and independent organizations. Thus, the question becomes what other governance and accountability concepts and arrangements are possible, in order to support the effectiveness of organizational networks and the organizations operating in them. The project therefore  focuses on developing innovative supervision methods and modalities for organizational networks in the domains of care, social housing, education, justice and public safety.

Importance of organizational networks

Societies have become more complex, where intricate interdependencies between states, sectors or societal subsystems as well as organizations lead to more ‘unknown unknowns’ and cause unpredictability and a state of constant flux. Policy-makers are increasingly faced with multifaceted and ill-defined problems beyond the scope of any single organization to understand and respond to. Examples are environmental degradation, poverty, education for all, mobility, chronic health issues or managing crises caused by a pandemic.

Organizational networks are better able to address such problems than single organizations. Single organizations can only address a small part of the challenges where organizational networks allow them to share information and pool resources, activities, and capabilities to achieve a joint outcome they could not achieve alone. However, organizational networks are no panacea and require specific prerequisites in order to function.

Supervision methods and modalities

The project is based on the assumption that applying the appropriate supervision methods and modalities for organizational networks both for the networks as a whole (external) as well as within and for the participating organizations (internal) is key to better address complex societal problems. Supervision is not only an element of the good governance of these networks, but also an important contextual factor that influences the functioning and legitimacy of organizational networks. The EISON project addresses this by designing, implementing, and testing new external and internal supervision methods and modalities for organizational networks: methods and modalities which contribute to the development of strong organizational networks and their collaborative work in addressing complex societal problems.

More information about the research project?

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Contact person: Prof. dr. Patrick Kenis - Tilburg School of Economics and Management