Inventing the Organizations

of the 21st Century


This conference took place on November 16, 1999. 

Co-Chairpersons:  Professor Thomas Malone, Professor Michael Scott Morton

Sponsors:  MIT Industrial Liaison Program, MIT Sloan School of Management

About two centuries ago, the worlds of business and society were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Today, sweeping economic and technological transformations are again changing the world in ways that many people believe will be just as significant. To help understand these changes and the new opportunities they present for organizing work, the MIT Sloan School of Management launched, in 1994, an Initiative on "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century."

Now, with the 21st Century about to dawn, this conference reported the results of our research over the past six years and set a context for thinking about the organizations of the future: How can companies take advantage of the dramatic changes in areas like eCommerce and eBusiness? What new organizational structures and processes will be most effective? And how can we create organizations that are not only economically efficient but that also satisfy the other human values that are important to us?







Featured Speakers:


Thomas Malone is a co-director of the 21C, and explores how new information technologies and new ideas about management can change the ways that work will be organized in the future. His primary research project, the Process Handbook, is a database of business knowledge with advanced navigational features that allow it to act as a tool for inventing new organizational approaches and managing knowledge about existing approaches.


Michael Scott Morton is a co-director of the 21C, and concentrates on the organizational and structural choices that firms must make if they are to succeed in the global marketplace – choices made more flexible by new technologies. His "Interesting Organizations Database" research is uncovering some very compelling themes for successful strategies in the new economy.


Erik Brynjolfsson is a co-director of Sloan’s new center for eBusiness@MIT – a major new initiative which focuses on education and research in the new Internet economy. His own research focuses on studying the economics of electronic commerce. His current projects include studies of pricing on the Internet, aggregation strategies for information goods, and a "matrix of change" approach to enabling companies to move faster to new Internet-based strategies.


Peter Senge is a founding member and the director of the Society for Organizational Learning. He studies how firms and other organizations can develop learning capabilities in a world of increasing complexity and rapid change. In the best-selling book, The Fifth Discipline, Senge presents tools and principles to help managers understand the structures and dynamics underlying organizations' problems, and how their own ways of thinking often create and perpetuate these problems.



9:00 am Professor Thomas Malone – Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century

9:45 am Professor Erik Brynjolfsson – Impact of eBusiness and the Matrix of Change

10:30 am Break

11:00 am Professor Michael Scott Morton – Emerging Corporate Strategies

11:45 am Narrated Video Collage – Ten Faculty Views of Future Organizations

12:30 pm Lunch

2:15 pm Peter Senge – Learning Organizations

3:00 pm Panel – A Manifesto for the Organizations of the 21st Century

4:30 pm Adjourn