Comparing Employees to Terrorists: A Take on Social Networking Theory and Practice

There is a fascinating article on Knowledge @ Wharton under Managing Technology that deals with the topic of social networking revealing how employees and companies operate. Ok, my title is a bit sensationalistic, however, there is a comparison made in the text to analyzing the social networks of employees within an organization to how the NSA examines and studies the networks of terrorists.

"Sometimes downsizing causes dramatic, unexpected events because networks get broken up," Rosenkopf notes. "The NSA is thinking 'If we can just pull a couple of cosmopolitan terrorists out of the network, we can really disrupt the network.'"

In context, there is no allusion to the terrorists and employees being similiar in any other way than they are both organized in social networks.

The article makes reference to the fact that we now have tremendous amounts of data enabling us to analyze the social networks much more scientifically than in previous decades. Data like what websites employees have browsed to, who they are sending email to, who they are instant messaging, etc., reveals ties and potental information funnels indicating a flow of information different than the designed organzational structure was intended to influence.