I love the opening quote:
"The social system is an organization, like the individual, that is bound together by a system of communication." − Norbert Wiener (1948, p. 24)
The PDF is worth reading (follow the citation link below to download the paper).
First Look: July 29, 2008 — HBS Working Knowledge
Which groups are most likely to communicate with others in a large organization, regardless of social-and physical-boundaries? Turns out that women, mid- to high-level executives, and members of the executive management, sales, and marketing functions are those most likely to build bridges, according to new research by Harvard Business School's Adam Kleinbaum, Toby Stuart, and Michael Tushman. The scholars base their findings on an analysis of millions of e-mail messages, e-calendar meetings, and teleconferences in a geographically dispersed, multiunit enterprise. "We measure three general types of boundaries: organizational boundaries (strategic business unit and function memberships), spatial boundaries (office locations and interoffice distances), and social categories (gender, tenure within the firm)," they write.
Communication (and Coordination?) in a Modern, Complex Organization
Authors: Adam M. Kleinbaum, Toby E. Stuart, and Michael L. Tushman
This is a descriptive study of the structure of communications in a modern organization. We analyze a dataset with millions of electronic mail messages, calendar meetings and teleconferences for many thousands of employees of a single, multidivisional firm during a three-month period in calendar 2006. The basic question we explore asks, what is the role of observable (to us) boundaries between individuals in structuring communications inside the firm? We measure three general types of boundaries: organizational boundaries (strategic business unit and function memberships), spatial boundaries (office locations and inter-office distances), and social categories (gender, tenure within the firm). In dyad-level models of the probability that pairs of individuals communicate, we find very large effects of formal organization structure and spatial collocation on the rate of communication. Homophily effects based on sociodemographic categories are much weaker. In individual-level regressions of engagement in category-spanning communication patterns, we find that women, mid- to high-level executives, and members of the executive management, sales and marketing functions are most likely to participate in cross-group communications. In effect, these individuals bridge the lacunae between distant groups in the company's social structure.