Interorganizational Networks as Generative Social Systems: Building Innovation Capacity and Sustainable Culture at the Network Level

By Brett Joseph.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This explores the potential of interorganizational networks (IONs) to serve as innovation networks that contribute to long-term organizational effectiveness and the emergence of sustainable culture. Using the construct of innovation capacity as a framework for exploring complementary themes found in multidisciplinary literature, this considers whether IONs, when managed for the purpose of fostering generative relationships of trust and processes that support organizational learning at the network level, might evolve systemically in ways that engender continuous, adaptive innovation within turbulent environments that are the prevailing condition of 21st century organizational life, thereby giving rise to emergent network cultures that contribute to both organizational and societal sustainability. These premises are found to be supported by the weight of empirical evidence and current theory reviewed in this brief treatment of the topic. This is an emerging area of knowledge that can benefit from further studies that explore the dynamic tensions and synergies that may be found to exist among the various theoretical constructs treated here, as further refined and applied in various interorganizational settings.

Keywords: Interorganizational Networks, Social Systems, Organizational Culture, Innovation, Capacity Building, Sustainability, Organizational Learning, Generative Relationships

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp.115-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 324.879KB).

Brett Joseph

Director of Research and Community Development, Cleveland Educators for Sustainability, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Following a 15 year legal career in the US Department of Commerce and in private practice, Mr. Joseph returned to his native Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a second career as an organizational development consultant, environmental educator and social change agent. While pursuing his Ph.D. in organizational systems at Saybrook University, he is serving as codirector of the Cleveland Educators for Sustainability, a city-wide capacity building initiative to improve educational outcomes and foster whole system improvements in Cleveland area K-12 schools, guided by principles and best practices in systems thinking and sustainability education. He serves as the Cleveland area research liaison to the Society for Organizational Learning, Educational Partnership. He chairs the Green Schools Committee for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and serves on the advisory committee of the Cleveland Early College High School. He is a permaculture teacher and ecological landscape design consultant for several school and community projects, and serves on the school-based health practices team at the Intergenerational School, the state’s highest performing K-8 charter school.