Distribution of Knowledge and Organizational Change

Ken Frank 

Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, October 29 2008, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. Kenneth A. Frank, Michigan State University


Current conceptualizations of organizational factors that affect intra-organizational diffusion attend either to the structure of relations among organizational members or to levels of knowledge of the innovation, but rarely to both. Here we integrate the two by locating knowledge of how to implement an innovation within the social network of the organization. In particular, we use Claude Shannon’s indices developed for communications systems to characterize the extent to which knowledge flows are entropic – widely distributed throughout a network. We find that the lower the entropy of the flow of knowledge from subgroup sources the greater the increase in implementation of localized reforms in nineteen elementary schools. That is, the fewer subgroups responsible for supporting a reform the greater the school-wide increase in implementation of the reform.