Structure Matters: How Network Form Affects Outcomes


There are multiple forms that any network can take, and the form can impact what a network creates systemically for those involved. Focusing on and contrasting three perhaps overly simplified and distinct forms can help us to understand how structure matters:

  • Centralized/hub-and-spoke
  • Mesh/peer-to-peer
  • Decentralized/multi-tiered

In this article, he shows how certain network structures are effective in certain situations but ineffective in other contexts. He also looks at how power dynamics can shape a network in positive and negative ways if we are not intentional.

In examining our own networks, the author raises three questions for network leaders to reflect on:

  • To the extent that networks are creating value in your work, who is creating and getting that value? Who is not?

  • How are the patterns and nature of connection and flow in your network and/or networked activities addressing inequities of opportunity and outcome? How might they be exacerbating them?

  • What might be done intentionally to ensure that there are more equitable opportunities and benefits?