21C Working Papers

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No. 001

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

January 1997

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 work.

No. 002

Learning Histories: A New Tool For Turning Organizational Experience Into Action"

Art Kleiner and George Roth. Editor: Suzy Wetlaufer 

June 1997

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. 

No. 003

Multi-point knowledge development processes in the multinational firm

Andreas Gast and Donald R. Lessard

January 1998

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, and 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.

No. 004

Flexible Work Arrangements and 21st Century Worker's Guilds"

Robert J. Laubacher and Thomas W. Malone

October 1997

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. 

No. 005

Toward a handbook of organizational processes

Thomas W. Malone, Kevin Crowston, Jintae Lee, Brian Pentland, Chrysanthos Dellarocas, George Wyner, John Quimby, Charles S. Osborn, Abraham Bernstein, George Herman, Mark Klein, and Elissa O'Donnell 

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 practices. 

No. 006

Genre Systems: Structuring Interaction through Communicative Norms

Wanda Orlikowski, JoAnne Yates

July 1998

No. 007

Dynamic Modeling of Product Development processes

David Ford and John Sterman

March 1997

No. 008

Getting Quality the Old-Fashioned Way: Self-Confirming Attributions in the Dynamics of Process Improvement

Nelson Repenning , John Sterman

May 1997

No. 009

Expert Knowledge Elicitation to Improve Mental and Formal Models

David N. Ford and John D. Sterman

May 1997

No. 010

Multi-point knowledge development processes in the multinational firm

Andreas Gast, Donald R.Lessard

October 1997

No. 011

Multinational Enterprises and Cross-Border Knowledge Creation

D. Eleanor Westney

February 1997

No. 012

Case Study--Dow Corning Corporation: Business Processes and Information Technology

Jeanne W. Ross

April 1997

No. 013

Case Study--Service Level Agreements and Cultural Change at Texas Instruments

J.W. Ross

April 1997

No. 014

The Untapped Potential of IT Chargeback

J.W. Ross, M.R. Vitale, C.M. Beath

May 1997

No. 015

Travelers Property Casualty Corporation: Building an Object Environment for Greater Competitiveness

Dr. Jeanne W. Ross

August 1997

No. 016

Case Study--Texas Instruments Incorporated: Service Level Agreements and Cultural Change

Jeanne W. Ross

September 1997

No. 017

Context Interchange: New Features and Formalisms for the Intelligent Integration of Information

Cheng Hian Goh, Stephane Bressan, Stuart Madnick, Michael Siegel

February 1997

No. 018

Discovering and Reconciling Semantic Conflicts: A Data Mining Perspective

Hongjun Lu, Weiguo Fan, Cheng Hian Goh, Stuart Madnick, David W. Cheung

May 1997

No. 019

Towards a Management Framework for Data Semantic Conflicts: A Financial Applications Perspective

Raphael Yahalom, Stuart Madnick

April 1997

No. 020

A Procedure for Mediation of Queries to Sources in Disparate Contexts

S. Bressan, C.H. Goh, T. Lee, S. Madnick, M. Siegel

June 1997

No. 021

Overview of a Prolog Implementation of the COntext INterchange Mediator

Stephane Bressan, Kofi Fynn, Cheng Hian Goh, Stuart E. Madnick, Tito Pena, Michael D. Siegel

October 1997

No. 022

Incorporating generalized quantifiers into description logic for representing data source content

Stuart E. Madnick, Steven Yi-cheng Tu

October 1998

No. 023

DIRECT: Discovering and Reconciling Conflicts for Data Integration

Stuart E. Madnick, Hongjun Lu, Weiguo Fan, Cheng Hian Goh, David W. Cheung

January 1998

No. 024

Using an Active Conceptual Model for Mediating Analytic Information Interchange in the Fixed Income Securities Industry

Allen Moulton, Stephane Bressan, Stuart Madnick, Michael Siegel

May 1998

No. 025

The COntext INterchange Mediator Prototype

S. Bressan, C.H. Goh, K. Fynn, M. Jakobisiak, K. Hussein, H. Kon, T. Lee, S. Madnick, T. Pena, J. Qu, A. Shum, M. Siegel

February 1997

No. 026

From Theory to Practice

George Roth and Peter Senge

October 1995

No. 027

Creating a Learning History

George Roth and Art Kleiner

March 1995

No. 028

Learning Histories: Using Documentation to assess and facilitate organizational learning

George Roth

October 1996


The Learning Initiative at the AutoCo Epsilon Program, 1991-1994

George Roth and Art Kleiner

October 1996

No. 030

Organizational Learning Activities in High-Hazard Industries: The Logics Underlying Self-Analysis

John S. Carroll

May 1996

21C No. 031

Inventing Organizations of the 21st Century: producing knowledge through collaboration 

Nina Kruschwitz and George Roth

March 1999

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

What do we really want?  A manifesto for the organizations of the 21st Century

The MIT 21st Century Manifesto Working Group*

November 1999

* 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)

Retreat of the Firm and the Rise of Guilds: The Employment Relationship in an Age of Virtual Business

Robert Laubacher and Thomas Malone

August 2000

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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