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Abstracts

Temporal Coordination through Genres and Genre Systems
One of the key challenges of organizing geographically distributed or virtual work is coordinating activities in time. In this study of the electronic communication of a small geographically dispersed software development start-up, Little Company or LC, we show how genres and genre systems were used as temporal coordination mechanisms. LC members used three task-specific genres to coordinate their work over time: the status report genre to schedule work, the bug/error notification to allocate work, and the update notification to synchronize work. In addition, they used one genre system, the phone meeting management genre system, to coordinate temporal symmetry through synchronous communication. By focusing on the genres and genre systems enacted by the LC members to structure their email communication, we have identified some ways in which virtual team members can use their communication to accomplish the temporal coordination of their distributed work.

The PowerPoint Presentation And Its Corollaries: Genres Shape Communicative Action In Organizations
In this chapter, we examine how and with what consequences the discursive expectations of the PowerPoint presentation genre shape the ongoing work of organizational actors. We trace the historical development of the business presentation genre over the last century, examine the influence of the PowerPoint software tool, and consider the evolving enactment of the PowerPoint presentation genre in a few organizations. Drawing on this analysis, we highlight the emergence of what we refer to as corollary genres that challenge our conventional understandings of genres as tightly coupled to particular recurrent situations and communicative purposes. Our analysispoints to an empirical blurring of genre expectations around conventional discursive practice, suggesting important implications for the nature of workplace communication in contemporary organizations.

Using Communication Norms For Coordination: Evidence From A Distributed Team
In our empirical study of a small geographically-dispersed software development team, we examine the role and importance of communication norms in facilitating effective distributed coordination. Our longitudinal investigation of the ongoing communication engaged in by team members within multiple media highlights the creation and emergence of a number of key norms that were critical to helping the team get its distributed work done.

The Media Toolbox: Combining Media In Organizational Communication
Much of the research on media use in organizations has tended to focus on the use of one medium in isolation from the other media in the organization. Yet the proliferation of communication technologies, especially Internet-based technologies, combined with work configurations such as hybrids of virtual and co-located work, has made it more likely that organizational members will use multiple media, at least some of the time, to communicate. In addition, physical work—work involving bodily skill and manual effort—is also being affected by the adoption and use of new media technologies. This study of a regional facilities group in a Fortune 500 company explores how the use of both single and multiple media in a hybrid work configuration can facilitate a variety of rich and complex interactions. We found that organizational members used single and multiple media to support individual as well as concurrent interactions. We conclude by proposing the notion of an organizational “media toolbox” on which organizational members can draw to use different media alone or in combination, to accomplish both individual and concurrent conversations.

Virtual Organizing: Using Threads to Coordinate Distributed Work
This paper explores the critical role of conversational threads in facilitating the ongoing, distributed work of one virtual organization. In studying the electronic mail exchanges of organizational members during one year, we found that they engaged in a range of threading activity to establish and maintain continuity, coherence, and coordination in their collaborative work over time. In particular, we found that organizational members relied on simple threads to focus their attention and action on a particular topic over a short period of time, concurrent threads to enable their participation in multiple topics at the same time, and compound threads to allow provisional settlement of key issues that were subsequently revisited over extended periods of time. We conclude by discussing the implications of conversational threads for research and practice of virtual organizing.

Enacting New Ways Of Organizing: Exploring The Activities And Consequences Of Post-Industrial Work
Our empirical study of an interactive marketing company explores how post-industrial work is constituted through the ongoing daily activities of organizational actors drawing on diverse backgrounds to accomplish project-based work. These actors engage in four types of work practices: negotiating agreements, concurrent designing and building, coordinating across boundaries within the organization, and collaborating with clients. As individuals interact across their occupational differences, new ways of working are both enabled and constrained, resulting in intended and unintended consequences for both individuals and organizations.

Self-Serve Internet Technology And Social Embeddedness: Balancing Rationalization And Relationships
Much of the research on the impacts of electronic communication networks such as the Internet presents as competing substitutes personal, embedded relationships and computer-mediated, arm’s-length relationships between exchange partners. More recent research highlights the complementarity of these two kinds of relationships (e.g., Kraut et al. 1999). However, this research has not explored what following a strategy of complementarity means in situ. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming. Using ethnographic data to explore the consequences of implementing a self-service technology in an environment in which social relationships and social capital are regarded as a key to success, the research presented here highlights the tensions inherent in a business model that seeks to integrate rationalization and relationships.

Schultze, Ulrike and Wanda J. Orlikowski, "A Practice Perspective on Technology-Mediated Network Relations: The Use of Internet-based Self-Serve Technologies", Information Systems Research, vol. 15, (2004), p. 87.
Embedded relationships with customers have been key in generating repeat business and economic advantage, especially in business-to-business settings. Such relationships are typically maintained through interpersonal interactions between customers and their providers. Lately, however, firms have been seeking to make their service operations more scalable by offering customers access to Internet-based, self-serve technology. This raises questions about the implications of inserting self-serve technology into embedded relationships. Recent research on the role of information technology (IT) within interfirm network relations suggests that relationships and the use of IT are complementary. However, most of this research focuses on the organizational level and fails to consider the instantiation of these interfirm relations by the actions and interactions of individual actors (e.g., customers and salespeople) representing their respective firms.
In this paper, we explore the implications of using IT within interfirm relations through an analysis of customers’ and sales representatives’ (reps) work activities and interpersonal relationships. We apply a practice perspective that highlights how macrolevel phenomena such as interfirm relations are created and recreated through the microlevel actions taken by firm members. This analysis reveals that managing the complementarity between relationships and IT in practice is fraught with considerable tension. This study of WebGA, a bricks-and-clicks dotcom, highlights how the use of the self-serve technology made it more difficult for sales reps to build and maintain embedded relationships with their customers. The use of IT altered the nature and quality of information shared by the participants, undermined the ability of sales reps to provide consulting services to customers, reduced the frequency of their interaction, and prompted sales reps to expend social capital to promote customers’ technology adoption. These changes produced intended and unintended shifts in the network relations enacted by WebGA and its customers, and raised serious challenges to the viability of WebGA’s business model.

Do Some Business Models Perform Better than Others? A Study of the 1000 Largest US Firms
Despite its common use by academics and managers, the concept of business model remains seldom studied. This paper begins by defining a business model as what a business does and how a business makes money doing those things. Then the paper defines four basic types of business models (Creators, Distributors, Landlords and Brokers). Next, by considering the type of asset involved (Financial, Physical, Intangible, or Human), 16 specialized variations of the four basic business models are defined. Using this framework, we classify the revenue streams of the top 1000 firms in the US economy in fiscal year 2000 and analyze their financial performance. The results show that business models are a better predictor of financial performance than industry classifications and that some business models do, indeed, perform better than others. Specifically, selling the right to use assets is more profitable and more highly valued by the market than selling ownership of assets. Unlike well-known concepts such as industry classification, therefore, this paper attempts to describe the deeper structure of what firms do and thereby generate novel insights for researchers, managers and investors.


So Close And Yet So Far: Information Technology And The Spatial Distribution Of Customer Service
Fitoussi, David,
Presented at the International Conference on Information Systems, Seattle, WA
Published in the Proceedings of the Twenty-fourth International Conference on Information Systems, Seattle, WA, vol. , (2003), p. 642

Where should firms locate? As communication technologies spread across city, region, and country boundaries, and communication channels multiply, many firms can potentially relocate some of their activities to regions with lower costs. While manufacturing has long been globalizing, IT is enabling a new wave focused on services. Spatial relocation is attractive to companies faced with the incessant pressure to control costs and information technologies can help firms transcend location boundaries. But these same technologies may also confer renewed importance to local assets that are hard to replicate in remote locations. This paper develops a framework to analyze these effects by estimating the regional demand for customer service representatives of a homogenous set of Fortune 1000 manufacturing firms. The model is estimated using firm-level data and the estimated demand structure is used to assess the effects of technology on customer volume, location choices and cost savings. A 10 percent increase in the use of Internet applications is found to lead to a 2.5 percent decrease in the firm’s employment of agents nationally. Moreover, the same increase reduces the willingness of firms to pay for regional benefits (technology “levels” the field between regions). However, the cost savings from the associated relocation are surprisingly small, averaging 1.3 percent of unit costs. Finally, the research shows that regional preferences vary widely among firms, suggesting that sensitivity to cost is highly firm-specific and that the importance of local assets does not vanish. Overall, these results show a positive relationship between technology and firms’ price sensitivity, but not on the scale of a massive spatial reorganization. Firm-specific regional preferences still matter.


Brynjolfsson, Erik, Lorin M. Hitt, and Shinkyu Yang,
“Intangible Assets: How Computers and Organizational Structure Affect Stock Market Valuations,” Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, vol. 1, (2002), p. 137.
(No Abstract)

Brynjolfsson, Erik and Lorin Hitt,
"Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence", Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 85, (2003), p. 793.
We explore the effect of computerization on productivity and output growth using data from 527 large US firms over 1987-1994. We find that computerization makes a contribution to measured productivity and output growth in the short term (using one year differences) that is consistent with normal returns to computer investments. However, the productivity and output contributions associated with computerization are up to five times greater over long periods (using five to seven year differences). The results suggest that the observed contribution of computerization is accompanied by relatively large and time-consuming investments in complementary inputs, such as organizational capital, that may be omitted in conventional calculations of productivity. The large long-run contribution of computers and their associated complements that we uncover may partially explain the subsequent investment surge in computers in the late 1990s.

Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu, and Michael D. Smith,
"Consumer Surplus in the Digital Economy: Estimating the Value of Increased Product Variety at Online Booksellers", Management Science, vol. 49, (2003), p. 1580.
We present a framework and empirical estimates that quantify the economic impact of increased product variety made available through electronic markets. While efficiency gains from increased competition significantly enhance consumer surplus, for instance, by leading to lower average selling prices, our present research shows that increased product variety made available through electronic markets can be a significantly larger source of consumer surplus gains.
One reason for increased product variety on the Internet is the ability of online retailers to catalog, recommend, and provide a large number of products for sale. For example, the number of book titles available at Amazon.com is more than 23 times larger than the number of books on the shelves of a typical Barnes & Noble superstore, and 57 times greater than the number of books stocked in a typical large independent bookstore.
Our analysis indicates that the increased product variety of online bookstores enhanced consumer welfare by $731 million to $1.03 billion in the year 2000, which is between 7 and 10 times as large as the consumer welfare gain from increased competition and lower prices in this market. There may also be large welfare gains in other SKU-intensive consumer goods such as music, movies, consumer electronics, and computer software and hardware.

 




     

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