Center for Coordination Science
1996 TECHNICAL REPORTS AND WORKING
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1996 Working Papers
JoAnne Yates, Wanda J. Orlikowski and Kazuo Okamura
A study of a Japanese R&D group using a new electronic medium identified
two contrasting patterns of media use: one involving explicit structuring
of community genre norms, and one involving implicit structuring of local
genre norms. These patterns provide initial explanations for how people
begin to use new electronic media and how their use changes over time.
We believe that the two patterns can serve as initial and suggestive archetypes
for helping researchers and practitioners in their design, introduction,
and ongoing management of new communication media.
Erik Brynjolfsson, Amy Austin Renshaw and Marshall van Alstyne
Business process reengineering efforts have not enjoyed high success
rates, which is in part due to a lack of tools for managing the change
process. We introduce the Matrix of Change and show how it can help managers
identify interactions among processes. In particular, this tool can assist
with issues such as whether the proposed systems are stable and coherent,
whether to start at a new site, how quickly should change proceed, and
in what order should changes take place. When we applied the tool at a
medical products manufacturer, we found it to be a useful guide for change
Lorin Hitt and Erik Brynjolfsson
The business value of information technology (IT) has been debated for
a number of years. While some authors have attributed large productivity
improvements and substantial consumer benefits to IT, others report that
IT has not had any bottom line impact on business profitability. In this
paper, we focus on the fact that while productivity, consumer value and
business profitability are related, they are ultimately separate questions.
Accordingly, the empirical results on IT value depend heavily on which
question is being addressed and what data are being used. Applying methods
based on economic theory, we are able to define and examine the relevant
hypotheses for each of these three questions, using recent firm-level
data on IT spending by 370 large firms. Our findings indicate that IT
has increased productivity and created substantial value for consumers.
However, these benefits have not resulted in supranormal business profitability.
We conclude that while modeling techniques need to be improved, these
results are consistent with economic theory. Thus, there is no inherent
contradiction between increased productivity, increased consumer value
and unchanged business profitability.
Wanda J. Orlikowski and J. Debra Hofman
In this paper, we present an alternative way of thinking about technological
change in organizations. This alternative approach is motivated by a recognition
that traditional models for managing technological change - in which the
major steps of the change are defined in advance and the organization
then strives to implement these changes as planned in a specified period
of time - are not particularly useful given the more turbulent, flexible,
and uncertain organizational situations that many companies face today.
Traditional models are also not particularly useful for helping the implementation
of technologies such as groupware whose unprecedented, open-ended, and
context-specific nature make it difficult to predefine the exact changes
to be realized and to predict their likely organizational impact.
We suggest an alternative model of managing technological change, one
that reflects the dynamic and variable nature of contemporary organizations
and technologies, and which accommodates iterative experimentation, use,
and learning over time. We label such a model of managing technological
change "improvisational," and suggest that it may enable organizations
to take advantage of the evolving capabilities, emerging practices, and
unanticipated outcomes that accompany use of new technologies in contemporary
Marshall Van Alstyne
This article reviews the literature on network organizations and interprets
explanations for its behaviors in terms of established analytical principles.
Tools from computer science, economics, and sociology give three markedly
different interpretations of its core attributes but they also settle
on a handful of common themes. The proposed benefits are a clarification
of what it means for an organization to be network structured, a few insights
into its origins, and a suggestion of where the boundaries to some of
its different forms might lie.
Chrysanthos Nicholas Dellarocas
This thesis argues that many of the difficulties associated with building
software applications by integrating existing components are related to
a failure of current programming languages to recognize component interconnection
as a separate design problem, orthogonal to the specification and implementation
of a component's core function.
It proposes SYNOPSIS, an architectural description language which supports
two orthogonal abstractions: activities, for representing the functional
pieces of an application, and dependencies, for describing their
interconnection relationships. Coordination processes, defined
as an attribute of dependencies, describe implementations of interconnection
protocols. Executable systems can be generated from SYNOPSIS descriptions
by successively replacing activities with more specialized versions and
managing dependencies with coordination processes, until all elements
of the description are specific enough for code generation to take place.
Furthermore, it proposes a "design handbook", consisting of
a vocabulary of common dependency types and a design space of associated
coordination processes. The handbook is based on the insight that many
software interconnection relationships can be described using a relatively
narrow set of concepts orthogonal to the problem domain of most applications,
such as resource flows, resource sharing, and timing dependencies.
A prototype component-based application development tool called SYNTHESIS
was developed. SYNTHESIS maintains a repository of increasingly specialized
dependency types, based on the proposed design handbook. It assists the
generation of executable applications by successive semi-automatic transformations
of their SYNOPSIS descriptions.
A set of four experiments is described. Each experiment consisted in
specifying a test application as a SYNOPSIS diagram, associating application
activities with components exhibiting various mismatches, and using SYNTHESIS
to assemble these components into executable systems. SYNTHESIS was able
to exploit its dependencies repository in order to resolve a wide range
of interoperability and architectural mismatches and integrate independently
developed components into the test applications, with minimal or no need
for additional manually-written code. It was able to reuse a single SYNOPSIS
architectural description in order to generate versions of a test application
for two different execution environments. Finally, it was able to suggest
various alternative architectures for integrating each component set into
its corresponding application.
Jintae Lee, Michael Gruninger, Yan Jin, Thomas Malone, Austin Tate,
Gregg Yost & other members of the PIF Working Group
This document provides the specification of the Process Interchange Format
(PIF) version 1.1. The goal of this work is to develop an interchange
format to help automatically exchange process descriptions among a wide
variety of business process modeling and support systems such as workflow
software, flow charting tools, planners, process simulation systems, and
process repositories. Instead of having to write ad hoc translators for
each pair of such systems, each system will only need to have a single
translator for converting process descriptions in that system into and
out of the common PIF format. Then any system will be able to automatically
exchange basic process descriptions with any other system.
This document describes the PIF-CORE 1.1, i.e. the core set of object
types (such as activities, agents, and prerequisite relations) that can
be used to describe the basic elements of any process. The document also
describes a framework for extending the core set of object types to include
additional information needed in specific applications. These extended
descriptions are exchanged in such a way that the common elements are
interpretable by any PIF translator and the additional elements are interpretable
by any translator that knows about the extensions.
The PIF format was developed by a working group including representatives
from several universities and companies and has been used for experimental
automatic translations among systems developed independently at three
of these sites. This document is being distributed in the hopes that other
groups will comment upon the interchange format proposed here and that
this format (or future versions of it) may be useful to other groups as
well. The PIF Document 1.0 was released in December 1994, and the current
document reports the revised PIF that incorporate the feedback received
Brian T. Pentland, Malu Roldan, Ahmed A. Shabana, Louise L. Soe, and
Sidne G. Ward
Routineness is a central concepts in organizational theory and design
and is widely understood as a product of low task variety and high task
analyzability. Standardized scales to measure these dimensions been developed
and shown to be reliable, but preliminary results reported here suggest
the possibility that these scales may measure routineness in the content
of a task unit's work but not variety in the process. Comparing
results from the standard measures and detailed observational studies
in three task units, we discovered that work processes in the most "routinized"
task units (as measured by the standard scales) are more varied than in
the less "routinized" task unit. To help explain these findings,
we introduce and operationalize the concepts of lexical and sequential
variety and use them to formulate testable propositions. We also discuss
the implications of this alternative view of routines and routineness
for issues such as organizaitonal learning, process redesign, and mass
This paper is a study of how representatives of one commercial user industry,
life insurance, interacted with some players in the newly forming computer
industry in the years after World War II but before the slae of any computers
for commercial purposes. In particular, this interaction shows how pioneers
in life insurance, including the Prudential's early computer expert and
proselytizer Edmund C. Berkeley and a broader industry effort by a special
committee of the Society of Actuaries, viewed computer technology and
their potential use of it, as well as the ways in which they influenced
its development. Both sets of actors played important roles in educating
their own firms and the life insurance industry as a whole about the potential
uses of computers for insurance, as well as communicating that industry's
needs, especially in the areas of rapid input/output and verification
needed for routine transactions processing, to computer vendors. These
interactions suggest that the theme of co-evolution of information technology
and its use in life insurance, previously established in a study of the
tabulator era, continues into the early computer era. Thsi paper reinforces
the notion that users can and do shape information technology, just as
information technology has a shaping influence on the way users do work.