HealthcarePapers 7(2) November 2006 : 62-66.doi:10.12927/hcpap..18559

Networks: Better Language Required

Sarah Hayward


While networks have proliferated in literature and in our health system, our day-to-day language has not kept up in sophistication. This commentary builds on the work presented by Huerta, Casebeer and VanderPlaat to further explore the language of networks. An expansion of our "network literacy" needs to be reflected in a broader vocabulary for describing particular networks and identifying patterns of relationship that are not appropriately labelled a network. Dimensions along which network managers often understand and place their networks are reported, and the implications of various network images are considered. The distinction between the image of a fishing net and that of a spider's web explores the difference between networks as system substrates and as centres. A moratorium on the term network is called for, to ensure an expanded vocabulary is applied to emerging new relationship patterns between or independent of organizations.



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