Network development in workplace health promotion – empirically based insights from a cross-company network promoting physical activity in Germany

20 Juni 2024



In the field of health promotion, interorganisational networks are of growing relevance. However, systematic and target-oriented network management is of utmost importance for network development. The aim of this article is to report on the development of a cross-company network promoting physical activity, and to identify necessary activities and competencies for a systematic network management.


The network was systematically planned and implemented in a German technology park comprising different companies. To assess and describe the development of the network, quantitative social network analysis was conducted. To answer the question on the activities and competencies for systematic network development semi-structured interviews with participating stakeholders, and a focus group discussion with health promotion experts were conducted. The interviews were analysed deductively and inductively with the structuring content analysis method and the focus group discussion was analysed deductively by summarising key aspects of the discussion.


Network metrics showed that the network became larger and denser during the planning phase, and stagnated during the implementation phase. As key facilitators for network development, participation of all stakeholders, a kick-off event, and the driving role of a network manager were identified. Necessary activities of the network manager were related to structural organisation, workplace health promotion offers, and cross-sectional tasks. The results suggested that not only professional and methodological competencies, but also social and self-competencies were required by the manager.


Our study provides initial guidance regarding the activities and required competencies of an interorganisational network manager. The results are of particular relevance for the context of workplace health promotion, since a network manager can be considered as a driving role for planning and implementing a cross-company network.

Trial registration

The study is registered in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00020956, 18/06/2020).