My Ph.D. dissertation, entitled Computer-Assisted Organizing (2009), explores how networked computer systems influence the structure and performance of human organizations. I argue that computer-assisted organizations can more easily decompose information processing tasks into differentiated subtasks and delegate these subtasks to specialists, often outside the formal boundaries of the organization. Computers propel this division of information processing by lowering the communication and agency costs arising from specialization, while simultaneously facilitating the creation and application of specialized knowledge. As a result, valuable capabilities increasingly reside in organizational networks rather than within single organizations.
At present, I’m continuing to develop these ideas through my research with Shinsei Bank on highly-evolvable enterprise software architectures. One of the empirical chapters, entitled “Business Scalability as a Dynamic Capability: Computer-Assisted Work, Task Uncertainty, and Business Growth” (co-authored with Marco Iansiti), is under review at Organization Science. The ideas in the theoretical chapters are not yet mature, but I hope to revisit them in a few years.
A brief reading list
(just notes to myself at the moment; more entries and annotations to follow)
S. Zuboff, 1989, In the Age of the Smart Machine