By Network Charting

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Network charting is a technique of communication analysis that has been used

in identifying employment discrimination.3 But its applications are potentially

much more powerful in charting the decision-making process in organizations.

The idea is a simple one: trace the path of communication flows during

one or more decisions to answer such questions as ‘‘Who is included?’’ ‘‘Who

is excluded?’’ and ‘‘Why are some individuals included or excluded?’’

A key assumption of network charting is that decision-makers will seek

information only from individuals who occupy important positions and/or

who are viewed as credible, trustworthy, and knowledgeable about the issues.

Significantly, it has also been shown that decision-makers prefer to include

people like themselves—and exclude people unlike themselves—from decision-

making processes. Hence, communication flows in the same way that succession

decisions are often made—that is, through homosocial reproduction,4

the tendency of leaders to perpetuate themselves by sponsoring people who

are in some way like themselves. As Rosabeth Moss Kanter describes the process,

‘‘Because of the situation in which managers function, because of the

position of managers in the corporate structure, social similarity tends to become

extremely important to them. The structure sets in motion forces leading

to the replication of managers as the same kind of social individuals. And the

men who manage reproduce themselves in kind.’’5

Network charting can be carried out by interviewing people or by retracing

communication flows. But another way, though time-consuming, is to shadow a

key decision-maker to determine firsthand what positions and what individuals

Assessing Present Work Requirements and Individual Job Performance 183

are included in making a decision and why they are included. In this application

of network charting, the aim is not to uncover employment discrimination;

rather, it is to determine which positions are considered key to decision

making in each part of the organization. The results should yield valuable information

about key positions in—and the route of work processes through—

the organization.