Learn the history and popular uses for dozens of diagrams, charts, and visuals.


Ecomaps are diagrams that show economic relationships between different companies and organizations. They do not give specific information but show an overview of the direct and indirect effects that a company has over others. The main company is in a large, central circle. Other smaller circles are placed on the page around the central circle, representing related companies. The type of line drawn between the central circle and each smaller circle depends on the type of relationship the companies have. For example, a single line may mean "Very Slightly Attached" while a double line may mean "Slightly Attached" and a triple line may mean "Moderately Attached", and so on. A legend is usually included in order to discern the difference between the lines. Arrowheads on the lines represent the direction of the flow of influence.

Typical Uses

An Ecomap helps a company to make large decisions by illustrating what companies or other organizations besides itself will be affected by that decision. It can also show what companies the target company is dependent on. Psychologists can also use Ecomaps to visualize the personal relationships of a client in order to analyze the cause of an issue. In this case, the central circle may contain a small family tree to illustrate the client's immediate family.

Best Practices
  • Choose a subject. Determine the company or organization to be analyzed. Place the name of the company in a circle in the center of the page. A short description may be placed somewhere on the page to clarify the intent of the Ecomap.
  • Add branches. Think of all of the companies or organizations that either influence or are influenced by the company. Place them in circles around the central circle. Then think of all of the companies and organizations involved with the ones that affect the central company and add them, placing them near the company involved.
  • Specify connection. Use lines to represent the relationships between companies. As mentioned above, use different line types for different relationship types, adding a legend to show what each line type means. It is advisable to use a visibly stronger line (that is, thicker or being a combination of a higher quantity of parallel smaller lines) to indicate a stronger relationship.
  • Specify direction. Use arrowheads to indicate the direction of influence for each relationship. In some cases the relationships may be one-way and other cases they may be both.
  • Specify position. Use a special color or line shape to indicate an individual or organization that is involved in the company because they are hired or paid to be. Use another color or line shape for volunteer organizations or individuals.
  • Specify involvement. If a group is highly involved, mark them red. Yellow is for a group that is mildly involved with you. Blue is for a group that is involved on occasion, and green is for a group that is involved very little.
  • Draw conclusions. Use the finished Ecomap to decide how best to take action.

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