Organizing with technology

Emerging technologies – like Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, wind and solar power, ubiquitous surveillance, digital platforms, autonomous vehicles, the hospital of the future, and more – are changing work, reshaping organizations, driving innovation, and transforming society. Introducing complex technologies in large organizations often takes place over years and can be associated with unpredictable upheaval and unexpected transformation.

Waves of technological change are often associated with regimes of organizing such as Taylorism, Fordism, Globalization, and now Uberization. Today, as we face a variety of digital and other emergent technologies, there is a crying need for both practitioners and scholars to better theorize and explain the increasingly constitutive meshing of technology and organizing.

Beyond theorizing the broader technological changes, there is an increased need for in-depth investigations of the processes where organizations embrace, adapt, and learn to function with novel technologies. We often start by embracing theoretical lenses such as sociomateriality, affordances, coordination, embodiment, framing, sensemaking, scripting, performativity, conflict, and emergence. These studies typically require embedded ethnographic studies of the emerging change over long durations.

Some of our active research projects:

  • How does a technology tool participate in the construction of a new organization following a merger? Building on ethnographic fieldwork, we are exploring how a novel organizational structure unfolds through a performative process wherein the software tool acted as a scripting device that inscribed and realized the future organization. This is an ongoing collaboration with Alaric Bourgoin, Paolo Leone, and Samer Faraj

  • By moving beyond the ‘features lens’ favoured by vendors and the technology-as-external-object perspective, we are interested in offering new insight about the broader role of technology in the organizing. We are working on developing a more relational theory of technology, one where technology is decentered and where it is approached from the lens of co-constitution. This includes an ongoing collaboration with Paul Leonardi and Samer Faraj; and publications with Stella Pachidi, Georg von Krogh, Diane Bailey, Paul Leonardi, Pamela Hinds, and Samer Faraj

  • Using detailed field studies around the introduction of new technologies in complex organizational settings, we are looking into how technology participates in organizational processes. This includes ongoing field work with PhD student Anand Bhardwaj in the study of how AI technology transforms 'operating room' scheduling in two leading Canadian medical centers; and ongoing field work with PhD student Anton Andersson who in the study of how precision medicine is emerging and being shaped in an anchor medical center.

Some representative papers: