The overlapping of various systems makes relationship complex. Since the systems theory gives prime importance to relationship, such overlap contributes to the dynamism of networking. Defined as development and maintenance of communication and ways of working together among people of diverse interests and orientations (Johnson, 1995), networking is a form of coordination. Thus, it is important in any development endeavors even in the administration of services for development. As part of the administrative function, *Aldaba (1990) states, networking is necessary for the formation of a broad consensus and the promotion of collective action so that social transformation and genuine development can occur.
As viewed through the systems theory, networking is both a relationship among systems and a sub – system in itself. In this sense, it affects the development of each system while it is also being affected by other sub systems that compose the whole. In like manner, networks and member NGOs work as a system operating collaboratively in order to address the pressing issues and concerns related to development of people. Each NGO, therefore, works as a “component unit” and, as such, affects each other, so that a modification of one NGO will stimulate corresponding change on other NGOs and the network, in general.
Relating this theory to any NGO network, we find the network and its member NGOs are working collaboratively to strengthen one another and to improve the delivery of services to the clients. Any development or underdevelopment that takes place in the process surely affects each system. If and when the network fails in its programs and services, the failure will have a bearing on the organizational life of member organizations. Any change or modification in the direction of a particular NGO member will surely affect the other members and the whole network. The interaction, however, is not limited to the network and member NGOs.
As pointed out by the system theorists, the interaction is not only limited to the internal structure, but is also closely related to its environment. The environment may refer to society in general which may affect the performance of the network as NGOs mobilize resources and energy from external sources and funnel back resources to their clientele, beneficiaries or partners in the community. Studies have shown how the socio-political landscape has affected the growth and development of NGOs and corresponding networks.
Such relationship both in the internal structure, as well as the outside environment results to overlapping among the basic systems. This is best described in the book written by Allen Pincus and Anne Minahan in 1973 entitled Social Work Practice: Model and Method.
The authors theorize that there are four basic systems in social work practice: (1) a change agent system, (2) a client system, (3) a target system, and (4) an action system. In the Pincus and Minahan model, the four basic systems are not mutually exclusive, but can and do overlap in many cases.
Following the Pincus and Minahan framework there is overlapping among the basic systems in the process of development of NGOs and the network as a whole. This means that a member NGO, which may be considered a client system may also become a target system, a change agent or even an action system just like the processes, experienced by other systems. The same is true with the network. Although it is considered basically a change agent, it may at times become a client system, i.e., when member NGOs contribute to its development. In the same way that it will become a target system or an action system.
The government and other networks in the community, which are considered action system, may also become a target system or a change agent system or even a client system, as the need arises. While other NGOs, outside the network that are considered a target system, may in certain conditions become a client, an action or a change agent. Each system, therefore, is a contributor to and recipient of development which is the by-product of the whole interaction processes and relationships between and among NGOs and the network and their environment. Networking in a larger sense enhances development.
*Aldaba, Fernando. “The Role of NGOs in the Philippine Rural Transformation.” Philippine Politics and Society