I was creating summaries using a natural language engine engine which generated semantic concepts about the actors (politicians) involved. This provided a very granular analysis of concepts derived from investigative reportage at a time of very high visibility about the leaders of the political parties. The corpus is about 1800 press articles.
The process is replicable and agnostic and it occurred to me to examine coverage of three party leaders for each party plus three other people as a control group (an industrialist, a celebrity and a sporting figure in the news at the same time).
As expected the concepts for the politicians were significantly the same and the three in the control group had concepts that had virtually no relationships to the politicians at all.
I then took the concepts for each of the actors and gave them four subjective values: Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Thread (SWOT) from the perspective of the actors concerned.
Analysis of this data immediately grouped the actors into their respective political parties and the control group had few (negligible) similarities. There are differences between actors in the political parties but the level of convergent values is very high for each of the political 'organisations'.
From this, it seemed to me, I could postulate that an organisation is the nexus of people with both common tokens (in this case semantic concepts from the content analysis) and common values (SWOT) under common circumstances (i.e. a general election - which I describe as a network).
This led to a postulate that there is a need to re-visit two concepts. The first is the nature of organisations (nexus of contracts is no longer accurate and nexus of conversations is too narrow - Coase/Sonsino). An organisation, it seems, is described by common tokens and values held by actors. Such commonality is not a single semantic structure but coalitions of tokens and values commonly held by actors - and thus - an organisation is the nexus of relationships.
The findings are very exciting for practitioner and theorist.
Organisations are very loosely bounded and more organic than is traditionally held.
Relationships are formed from an appreciation of both explicit tokens and implicit values between organisations and people and or organisations.
Relationships flourish when explicit tokens and implicit values held by social groups create a third token or values which is recognised by the parties involved and recognisable by other actors in the same network (how wealth is created).
Stakeholders cannot be seen as a homogeneous social group, the theory is flawed.
This is a proof for Georg Simmel (it is also offers an empirical test for the theories of Durkheim, Webber and Marx).
Picture First published on BBC.co.uk Tuesday 3rd May 2005.