Nexus Work: Managing Ambiguity in Network Based Projects

65 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2008 Last revised: 7 Sep 2008

See all articles by Elizabeth Long Lingo

Elizabeth Long Lingo

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Siobhan Clare O'Mahony

Boston University School of Management

Date Written: April 8, 2008

Abstract

Theorists have argued that network based projects rely upon lateral modes of coordination, but little research examines how the ambiguity that ensues is managed. With an ethnographic study of music producers, we studied how those in the structurally central 'nexus' role integrated contributions from experts without direct authority over them. We found that nexus actors differentiated their responses to three types of ambiguity: an ambiguous quality metric; ambiguous occupational jurisdictions; and an ambiguous transformation process. Our grounded theoretical explanation of the nexus role specifies an underappreciated relational form of brokerage that contrasts with structural conceptions of brokerage and delineates the types of ambiguity that can be resolved through relational work.

Suggested Citation

Long Lingo, Elizabeth and O'Mahony, Siobhan Clare, Nexus Work: Managing Ambiguity in Network Based Projects (April 8, 2008). UC Davis Graduate School of Management Research Paper No. 01-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1263022 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1263022

Elizabeth Long Lingo (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Siobhan Clare O'Mahony

Boston University School of Management ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

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