Skip to main content
photo
 
Critical success factors or conditions for success

The research literature also offers a wide ranging view of the conditions that are likely to promote success on the foregoing measures. Sociologists have long identified trust (Gulati, 1995, Nooteboom et al., 1997), and the reputation of participants (Granovetter, 1985; Hill, 1990) as elements in successful networks.

In their study of human service coalitions, Mizrahi and Rosethal (2001) identified commitment to the network goal, competent leadership, commitment to unity, equitable decision making structures and processes, and mutual respect and trust. Reviewing the experiences and performance of interorganizational and intergovernmental information sharing and service delivery networks, Dawes and Pardo (2002) concluded that more successful projects set realistic and measurable expectations but did so within a holistic understanding of the issues and challenges surrounding their particular effort. More successful projects attended to the ways in which information flowed through work processes and infused practices in the participating organizations. They also marshalled a variety of financial and professional skills, employed diverse communication methods, shared risks and benefits among the partners, and selected competent leaders and methods for managing complexity.

Knowledge management programs reviewed by Davenport, et al. (1998) were more successful when they focused on performance or industry value, built compatible technical and organizational infrastructures, adopted data and technical standards, and, most importantly, exhibited a knowledge-friendly culture. Such a culture has a postive orientation toward and values knowledge, does not inhibit people from sharing knowledge, and encourages and rewards learning.

Tables 2a, 2b, and 2c present one way to consider how these conditions may be linked to network, organization, and individual success. The tables present a high-level overview of the levels of analysis; the structural, performance, and interaction measures associated with each level; and the conditions which appear to be necessary (or at least desirable) for successful outcomes. Structural measures of success appear to be most influenced by conditions in which the public value of the network is well recognized, the network and partners enjoy positive reputations, and legal and financial underpinnings are strong. Success on performance-oriented measures seems to depend in large measure on sound leadership and management practices, good quality data and appropriate infrastructure, and a culture that provides incentives and rewards for knowledge and information sharing. Successful processes and relationships appear to rest on a combination of reputation, trust, competence, and supportive culture.

 
 
Table 2a. Measures of Structural Success of Public Sector Knowledge Network with Associated Conditions for Successs
 
 
Level of Analysis
 
 
Network
 
Participating Organizations
 
Participating Individuals
 
Structural measures
 
  • legitimacy
  • creation and maintenance of a network administrative structure
  • institutionalization
  • growth in network membership
  • network stability and resilience in the face of environmental threats
  • resource growth
  • survival beyond the tenure of key individual participants
 
  • organizational survival
  • enhanced organizational legitimacy
 
 
 
Condlitions for success
 
  • reputation of network and partners
  • recognition of public value served by the network
  • legal status
  • diverse financial resources
 
  • reputation of the organization
  • recognition of public value served by the organization
  • legal status
 
 
 

Table 2b. Measures of Performance Success of Public Sector Knowledge Network with Associated Conditions for Successs
 
 
Level of Analysis
 
 
Network
 
Participating Organizations
 
Participating Individuals
 
Performance measures
 
  • achievement of specific long-term and interim substantive goals
  • joint product or service development
  • range of services provided to network members
  • integration and coordination of services provided to network members
  • growth in knowledge content and use
  • high quality data
  • efficient data distribution and sharing mechanisms
 
  • organization-specific performance goals are met
  • efficiency improvements
  • operational improvements
  • resource acquisition
  • contribution to core organizational competencies
  • knowledge acquisition and learning
 
  • individual professional goals are met
  • contribution to core professional competencies
  • knowledge acquisition and learning
 
Conditions for success
 
  • shared understanding of the domain and objectives
  • competent leadership
  • strategic similarity among partners
  • ability to manage complexity
  • diverse skills across the network
  • attention to work processes and practices across partners
  • suitable technical infrastructure for the network
  • data and technical standards across partners
  • knowledge-friendly culture
 
  • attention to organizational work processes and practices
  • suitable technical infrastructure to participate in the network
  • data and technical standards compatible with the network
  • knowledge-friendly culture
 
  • professional reputation of network, partners and colleagues
  • knowledge- friendly culture
 

Table 2c. Measures of Process and Relationship Success of Public Sector Knowledge Network with Associated Conditions for Successs
 
 
Level of Analysis
 
 
Network
 
Participating Organizations
 
Participating Individuals
 
Process & relationship measures
 
  • achievement of process goals
  • equity or “fair dealing” among participants
  • relationship strength (multiplexity)
 
  • enhanced reputation or legitimacy
  • equity or “fair dealing” among participants
  • minimum conflict across membership in multiple networks
  • overall satisfaction with the network
 
  • enhanced reputation or legitimacy
  • minimum role conflict across multiple networks
  • building of social capital
  • overall satisfaction with the network
 
Conditions for success
 
  • competent leadership
  • ability to manage complexity
  • commitment to partnership
  • multiplexity of relationship
  • diverse communication methods
  • knowledg-friendly culture
 
  • reputation of network and partners
  • multiplexity of relationships
  • willingness to share risks and benefits
  • diverse communication methods
  • knowledge-friendly culture
 
  • reputation of network, partners, and colleagues
  • multiplexity of relationships
  • knowledge- friendly culture