Shapeshifting to address complexity: Advancing a typology of network evolution and transformation
Keywords:purpose-oriented networks, evolution, network forms
In practice, health and social services are delivered through purpose-oriented networks (PONs) that are often favored by government and philanthropic investment as an effective means for collectively solving complex social problems. Current theories examine the evolution of these groups by resting on the traditional organizational forms of market, hierarchy, and network, without a consideration of trajectories that show movement between organizational forms over time. This article utilizes the network itself as the unit of analysis within a larger network domain to examine the most common trajectories and changes in organizational forms over time. To date, little theory has been developed or applied to account for both endogenous characteristics and exogenous system-wide dynamics and their longitudinal effects on networks. As is appropriate in the early stages of developing new theories, this article addresses the foundational steps of first clarifying the phenomenon of interest with the creation of a typology of the ways in which networks evolve as organizational forms and suggesting future network-level and network domain research agendas.