Using cultural networks within organisations to disperse information.

 Mar 18, 2015

Have you ever wondered how information is communicated in your organisation? In addition,  not only how it is communicated but who communicates it, and do they communicate directly, or do they communicate it through the cultural network of the organisation? So for my post today I want share a piece with you from one of our most popular professional development programs…Advanced Interpersonal Communication skills. Enjoy…

What is a cultural network?

A cultural network is a combination of the formal and informal hierarchy and communication channels within an organisation. It is through the cultural network that elements of a culture are transmitted, reinforced, and blended into a culture that is unique to each organisation.

Roles within the cultural network

Each employee plays a role within the cultural network. This role is determined by both the individual’s personality, and the need for balance within an organisation. Almost every organisation will have a balance of individuals in the following roles.

  • Narrators
  • Guardians
  • Anonymous powers
  • Gossipmongers
  • Clerical sources
  • Secret agents
  • Alliances


Narrators seek power and influence by interpreting and repeating the activities that take place in an organisation. Narrators perpetuate the culture of an organisation through stories of corporate heroes and legends. A drawback of learning about the culture of an organisation’s culture from a narrator is that his or her stories comprise his or her perceptions, rather than a factual account of events. To be an effective narrator, the employee must have an eye for detail as well as an imagination to turn those details into a story. Narrators enjoy the drama and power of their roles. If you find yourself using a narrator to disperse information in a cultural network, it is important to make the narrator feel important and to play to his or her desire for drama.


Guardians are the caretakers of an organisation. They are often most mature, responsible, and well-respected mid-to-high level managers. Guardians are accessible to listen and offer solutions to any problem, whether professional or personal. When using guardians to disperse information in a cultural network, appeal to their sense of commitment to the well-being of the organisation. When guardians feel responsible for an action within their organisation, nothing will take a greater priority.

Anonymous powers

Anonymous powers are influential people who might not outwardly hold a position of power within the organisation. Such as an employee who has a close relationship with the apparent power, for example, the company’s General Manager or Chief Executive Officer. In addition, the Anonymous power has a strong network of contacts throughout the organisation. Because of these contacts, the Anonymous power knows what goes on behind the scenes in an organisation. An Anonymous power is especially effective in dispersing information to the people in high-level organisational roles because of their power to influence.


Gossipmongers, like narrators, are very detail-oriented. The difference, however, is that narrators weave details into stories to be shared when they are most effective, whereas gossipmongers take those details and embellish them before dispersing them. They do so purely for entertainment. Gossipmongers cannot be expected to be serious or factual, so you should not disperse any important information through them.

Clerical sources

Clerical sources are an important part of the cultural network because they are a relatively unbiased source of information. Clerical sources are often the most informed people regarding the activities within an organisation, and are in the unique position of being able to transmit information to all levels of the cultural network. For example, Clerical sources can dispense information from upper levels of management, throughout the organisation. In addition, Clerical sources can share information from other Clerical sources and low-level employees with high-level managers. Because other roles can be effective in dispersing information from upper management throughout the organisation, the Clerical source is most valuable when dispersing information upward from low-level employees.

Secret agents

Secret agents are employees within a cultural network who are extremely loyal to a person in a position of power. Secret agents are well liked by other employees, which makes it easier for them to gather information and maintain an unbiased perspective of events in the workplace. The person in position of power to whom the secret agent is loyal, often sets time aside for the secret agent to share insights and perceptions. As a result, you would use the Secret agent to receive information rather than dispense it throughout the organisation.


An alliance occurs when two or people secretly join together for a common purpose, which is usually advancement within the organisation. The members of an alliance share a deep bond of trust and support for one another. Alliances are an important part of the cultural network because an alliance member will rapidly dispense any information he or she has to other members of the alliance. While this can work to your advantage, it is important to avoid dispensing information through an alliance when it is important that all employees receive the information in the same time frame.

To learn more about our Advanced Interpersonal Communication Skills program and our other workplace performance programs please visit us here.

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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