24 International Congress of Applied Psychology
The Challenge for Applied Psychology:
Bridging the Millennia
San Francisco August 9-14, 1998

Abstract: Group Presentation
Freitag, M. (Principal Contact); Lang, R. (Chair); Baitsch, C.; Beelitz, N.; Bleicher, A.; Schoene, R. (Participants); Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany .

Interorganizational development in times of economic transition - The role of  leadership, trust, and cooperation in networks of small and medium-sized enterprises

     The transformation process in Central and East European countries is closely connected with a break down of the old structures and value systems as well as - at least in East Germany - with a massive restructuring and downsizing of the enterprises from an industrial structure with big combines and enterprises to a structure where small firms are dominating. Small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the former socialist countries struggle with the typical shortcomings of SMEs and additionally have to deal with a phalanx of well established competitors on the global market. The lack of specific management knowledge in these SMEs further reduces their chances of survival.
    Networks of small firms are seen as a possible solution which could support the restructuring of a traditionally industrialized region as South West Saxony.
A cooperative network is a set of companies engaged in common profit-oriented economic activities. The relationships of network members are based on reciprocity and are relatively stable. The network members keep their own legal structure, but establish new economic structures and dependencies in the network. The network is based on the mutual commitment to cooperate. The panel will discuss the process of building networks as a case of interorganizational development and will focus on leadership, trust in networks and on methodological issues.


Freitag, M., and Schoene, R.; Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany

The role of trust in small firm networks

     Trust is an essential element in the new emerging forms of economic exchange like networks or virtual organizations if long-term, non-hierarchical relationships are to be sustained. The paper will discuss different conceptual perspectives of trust in and between individuals and organizations (e.g. Kramer & Tyler, 1996) and it will present a framework how (inter-) organizational structures influence trust and vice versa. Different methods to create, stabilize and reproduce trust in networks and different indicators of trust will be described in a case study. The empirical background is a longitudinal field study (1996-2000) in the former GDR, which started with 40 SMEs in five networks and investigates the development of cooperation. The theory, the methods and the results are discussed in terms of their implications for the interorganizational development.
Kramer, R. M.; Tyler, T. R. (1996). Trust in Organizations. Frontiers of Theory and Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.


Lang, R.; Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany

Leadership in small firm networks in transformational settings

The development of cooperative networks could be supported by the activities of managers. In situations of transformation and radical cultural change, structural forms of management and leadership seems to be less important, on the other hand personal, interactive forms of leadership (re-)gain importance (e.g. Marr, 1994; Kozminski, 1995;  Lang & Alt, 1996).
The questions arising from this position are:

1. What kind of leadership is adequate for the situation and could contribute to the development of small firm networks (normative point of view) ?
2. What kinds of leadership are emerging in these network firms in the transforming societies (descriptive point of view) ?
To answer the questions results of empirical studies on leadership in East Germany conducted by the author himself and others will be discussed with respect to small firms as well to networks of small firms.
Kozminski, A.J. (1995): From the Communist Nomenklatura to Transformational Leadership: The Role of Management in the Post-Communist Enterprise, in: Grancelli, B. (ed.): Social Change and Modernization. Berlin, New York, 83-106.
Lang, R. & Alt, R. (1996): Handlungsspielraeume des ostdeutschen Managements im Umbruch, in: Sadowski, D. & Czap, H./Waechter, H. (eds.): Regulierung und Unternehmenspolitik. Wiesbaden, 355-377.
Marr, R. (1994): Die Rolle der Fuehrungskraefte im Prozess der Transformation eines Wirtschaftssystems von der Plan- zur Marktwirtschaft, in: von Rosenstiel, L. (ed.): Fuehrung im Systemwandel. Untersuchungen zum Fuehrungsverhalten beim Uebergang von der Plan- in die Marktwirtschaft. Mering.


Beelitz, N., and Baitsch, C.; Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany

COIN - Cooperation in Networks. A psychological instrument for analyzing and designing SME networks

    Due to the economic and technological change, SME are forced in the present situation to confront themselves with new forms of economic exchange like virtual organizations, boundaryless firms and they increasingly get organized in networks. Cooperation between SME vary with respect to their temporary stability, their intensity, their commitment  as well as their extension.

On this background new issues for work and organizational psychology emerge:
- selection- and cooptation processes
- convergence and divergence of expectations of the network members (e.g. benefit, involvement)
- quality measures for work process and work result in networks

Recent experiences were able to show that external  consultation supporting the process of networks is effective and necessary. Therefore we are proposing an instrument of analysis that can used by consultants and which is able to contribute scientifically to the above mentioned issues. The aim consists in supporting -  on a theoretical background - the creation and the task fulfilment  of networks. In addition, the instrument facilitates
predictions concerning the probability of innovative behavior in networks.

The instrument of analysis connects different dimensions. Objective characteristics (e.g. temporary stability /length of cooperation and material resources)  as well as social psychological (e.g. communication patterns, sympathy) and cognitive (e.g. former experience, problem solving styles) aspects are taken into account.


Bleicher, A., and Schöne R.; Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany

Cooperative behavior as an outcome of a structuration process in networks

     Cooperation is an ambiguous concept. In general it obviously has the meaning of acting together. Narrowing the focus, cooperative networks can be described as an set of enterprises which have a shared goal, behave non competitive to each other and are not hierarchically organized among each other. A cooperative network has to generate both a cooperative structure including all network-members as well as regular cooperative behavior among the network actors. According to Giddens (1984) both the existence of structures as well as the actions themselves constitute this regularity. He attempted to articulate a process-oriented theory that treats structure as a product of and a constraint on human action: „According to the notion of the duality of structure, the structural properties of social systems are both medium and outcome of the practices they recursively organize“ (Giddens 1984, p. 25) Based on the theory of structuration the development of a cooperative network can be described as a continuous process that is altering between the realm of structures and the realm of actions. For instance, the process of coopting new network members can be described as a process that leads from the encoding and enacting of the structures to the revision or replication of the structure by choosing an action. How cooperative behavior emerges in networks is shown in a case study.
Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of Society. Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley.