- Design rules for highly-evolvable enterprise software
- IT development methodologies for controlling radical change
Computer-Assisted Work and Business Scalability
My dissertation investigates how computer-assisted work (CAW) contributes to the ability of organizations to grow efficiently. Using survey data from over two hundred small wealth management firms, I analyze the relationships between CAW, growth aspirations, product variety, and product customization. The findings suggest that CAW enables business to grow more rapidly, especially when they have complex and customized product offerings. An additional study finds evidence of a link between CAW and revenue growth in over two hundred mid-size firms drawn from seven industries.
The January 2009 issue of Research Magazine features the wealth management study in an article titled “Mastering Advisor Technology: The optimal use of tech tools is essential for staying competitive and building business”.
Sustaining Innovation in Mature Organizations
This research investigates how mature organizations can achieve both efficiency and adaptability. Often, organizations become rigid and inflexible as they pursue greater efficiency. ”Standard operating procedures” and tightly controlled processes impede exploration and kill new ideas. Scholars describe this as the “productivity dilemma“: measures that increase productivity in the short term tend to hinder learning and adaptation in the long term. In essence, successful organizations dig their own graves.
We develop a theory of how perturbations disrupt established organizational routines, creating opportunities for innovation. Perturbations occur naturally in young and growing organizations, but mature organizations must deliberately induce perturbations in order to sustain innovation. Such deliberate perturbation runs counter to deeply ingrained tendencies of mature organizations, where managers normally struggle to keep processes under control and prevent disruptions. Some organizations, such as the Toyota Motor Company, seem to use perturbation effectively, and we use examples from Toyota to illustrate our theory and develop hypotheses about how organizations can leverage deliberate perturbation.
This is collaborative work with Bradley R. Staats, Michael L. Tushman, and David M. Upton. The paper is available for download from SSRN.