21C Working Papers
Two Scenarios for 21st Century Organizations: Shifting Networks of Small Firms or All-Encompassing "Virtual Countries"?Robert J. Laubacher, Thomas W. Malone, and the MIT Scenario Working Group
A In 1994, the Sloan School of Management at MIT inaugurated a multi-year
research and education initiative called "Inventing the Organizations of
the 21st Century." One of the key activities for this initiative has been
developing a series of coherent scenarios of possible future organizations.
The scenarios are not intended as predictions, but rather, as visions of
potential alternative ways of organizing work and structuring business
enterprises in the next century. This paper describes the results of the
scenario development activity to date and suggests directions for future
A In our personal lives, experience is often the best teacher , or so
the old saying goes. Why not, then, in corporate life? After a major event
, a new product failure, a wild business breakthrough, a downsizing crisis,
or a merger , many companies seem to stumble on in ways that miss the lessons
of the past. Mistakes get repeated, while smart decisions do not. Most
importantly, the old ways of thinking which led to past mistakes are never
talked about; which often means that they are left in place to spawn new
mishaps ad infinitum.
Multi-point knowledge development processes in the multinational firm
Andreas Gast and Donald R. Lessard
This paper focuses on an increasingly important form of distributed knowledge development in the multinational firm: the multi-point process, a set of related knowledge development activities which are internationally dispersed among multiple units, coordinated, and performed at least partially simultaneously.
We draw on the organizational literature on knowledge development to
identify the challenges associated with multi-point processes. We then
present environmental conditions under which multinational firms can be
expected to use them, compare several variants of multi-point processes,
explore criteria guiding managers in central process design activities.
We conclude with a discussion of how the extreme case presented by multi-point
processes in the multinational firm informs our general understanding of
the management of knowledge development processes in organizations.
What if, rather than relying on an employer or the government to meet
their human needs, individual workers joined independent organizations
whose primary purpose was to provide stable "homes" as they moved from
job to job? We call these organizations "guilds" by analogy to the craft
associations of the Middle Ages, and in this paper we examine what they
might do and how they might emerge.
Revised October 1998
This paper describes a novel theoretical and empirical approach to tasks
such as business process redesign and knowledge management. The project
involves collecting examples of how different organizations perform similar
processes, and organizing these examples in an on-line "process handbook".
The handbook is intended to help people: (1) redesign existing organizational
processes, (2) invent new organizational processes (especially ones that
take advantage of information technology), and (3) share ideas about organizational
Dynamic Modeling of Product Development processesDavid Ford and John Sterman
Getting Quality the Old-Fashioned Way: Self-Confirming Attributions in the Dynamics of Process ImprovementNelson Repenning , John Sterman
Expert Knowledge Elicitation to Improve Mental and Formal ModelsDavid N. Ford and John D. Sterman
Multi-point knowledge development processes in the multinational firmAndreas Gast, Donald R.Lessard
Multinational Enterprises and Cross-Border Knowledge CreationD. Eleanor Westney
Case Study--Dow Corning Corporation: Business Processes and Information TechnologyJeanne W. Ross
Case Study--Service Level Agreements and Cultural Change at Texas InstrumentsJ.W. Ross
The Untapped Potential of IT ChargebackJ.W. Ross, M.R. Vitale, C.M. Beath
Travelers Property Casualty Corporation: Building an Object Environment for Greater CompetitivenessDr. Jeanne W. Ross
Case Study--Texas Instruments Incorporated: Service Level Agreements and Cultural ChangeJeanne W. Ross
Context Interchange: New Features and Formalisms for the Intelligent Integration of InformationCheng Hian Goh, Stephane Bressan, Stuart Madnick, Michael Siegel
Discovering and Reconciling Semantic Conflicts: A Data Mining PerspectiveHongjun Lu, Weiguo Fan, Cheng Hian Goh, Stuart Madnick, David W. Cheung
Towards a Management Framework for Data Semantic Conflicts: A Financial Applications PerspectiveRaphael Yahalom, Stuart Madnick
A Procedure for Mediation of Queries to Sources in Disparate ContextsS. Bressan, C.H. Goh, T. Lee, S. Madnick, M. Siegel
Overview of a Prolog Implementation of the COntext INterchange MediatorStephane Bressan, Kofi Fynn, Cheng Hian Goh, Stuart E. Madnick, Tito Pena, Michael D. Siegel
Incorporating generalized quantifiers into description logic for representing data source contentStuart E. Madnick, Steven Yi-cheng Tu
DIRECT: Discovering and Reconciling Conflicts for Data IntegrationStuart E. Madnick, Hongjun Lu, Weiguo Fan, Cheng Hian Goh, David W. Cheung
Using an Active Conceptual Model for Mediating Analytic Information Interchange in the Fixed Income Securities IndustryAllen Moulton, Stephane Bressan, Stuart Madnick, Michael Siegel
The COntext INterchange Mediator PrototypeS. Bressan, C.H. Goh, K. Fynn, M. Jakobisiak, K. Hussein, H. Kon, T. Lee, S. Madnick, T. Pena, J. Qu, A. Shum, M. Siegel
From Theory to PracticeGeorge Roth and Peter Senge
Creating a Learning HistoryGeorge Roth and Art Kleiner
Learning Histories: Using Documentation to assess and facilitate organizational learningGeorge Roth
The Learning Initiative at the AutoCo Epsilon Program, 1991-1994George Roth and Art Kleiner
Organizational Learning Activities in High-Hazard Industries: The Logics Underlying Self-AnalysisJohn S. Carroll
21C No. 031
Nina Kruschwitz and George Roth
This manuscript examines a Process Handbook (PH) special project using a learning history form. A learning history is an assessment-for-learning, designed such that its value is derived when read and discussed by teams interested in similar issues. Its contents come from the people who initiated, implemented, and participated in the documented efforts as well as non-participants who were affected by it. A learning history presents the experiences and understandings of people who have gone through a learning effort in their own words, in a way that helps others move forward without having to "re-invent" what the original group of learners discovered. The content of the learning history creates a context for conversation that teams within organizations wouldn't be able to have otherwise.
This learning history, and the PH project it describes, raises issues
around knowledge creation and team structures by looking at how a project
team of individuals from university, business, and consulting organizations
was effective in creating new knowledge. The team members held different
predispositions toward theory development, producing business outcomes,
and developing capacity for action. Their complementary, and at times conflicting,
interests provided a robust structure for knowledge creation. Knowledge
created through this team structure is also multidimensional, having theoretical,
methodological, and practical components.
21C No. 032
The MIT 21st Century Manifesto Working Group*
* The MIT 21st Century Manifesto Working
Group includes the following MIT faculty members: Deborah Ancona, Lotte
Bailyn, Erik Brynjolfsson, John Carroll, Tom Kochan, Don Lessard, Thomas
Malone (chair), Wanda Orlikowski, Jack Rockart, Michael Scott Morton, Peter
Senge, John Sterman, and JoAnne Yates.
21C No. 033 (Sloan No. 4129)
Robert Laubacher and Thomas Malone
The transformation of American business in recent decades--the movement from the hierarchical firms that dominated the U.S. economy in the mid-20th century to the lean corporations and virtual companies of today-has brought greater speed and efficiency but has also undermined the traditional employment contract. While some American workers have benefited from this change, others face greater insecurity, more difficult career prospects, and feelings of isolation. A solution to this problem is posited in the development of "guilds," organizations that operate outside and across firms, assuming the role formerly played by large employers in providing benefits, career opportunities and a sense of identity and community for workers. Professional societies, labor unions, temporary staffing firms, and regionally based consortia (comprised of community groups, workers' organizations and local government agencies and educational institutions) have already begun to assume some of the roles of guilds. The paper notes issues that must be addressed to enable the broad diffusions of guilds and discusses implications of recent developments for workers, firms, guilds, policy-makers and educators.
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