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JOC Tables of Contents: 0102030405

Journal of Organizational Computing 3

Editors:Andrew B. Whinston; Andrew B. Whinston
Publisher:Ablex Publishing
Standard No:ISSN 1054-1721; ISSN 1054-1721
Papers:18; 18
Links:Table of Contents | Table of Contents
  1. JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 1
  2. JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 2
  3. JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 3
  4. JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 4

JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 1

Organizational Computing Coordination and Collaboration

Introduction to the Special Issue BIB iii
  Andrew B. Whinston
Interpretive Analysis of Team Use of Group Technologies BIBAK 1-29
  Gerardine DeSanctis; Marshall Scott Poole; Gary W. Dickson; Brad M. Jackson
Studies of the impacts of new computing technologies on organizations often lead to contradictory or equivocal findings. Studies showing negative or null effects of computing are as commonplace as those showing benefits. Moreover, outcomes are nonuniform across individuals, groups, or organizational units and sometimes vary within the same study. To explain the commonality as well as the variance in the results of new technology introduction, we propose adaptive structuration theory. The theory focuses on how technology structures are applied in interpersonal interaction and the specific nature of appropriation patterns. We illustrate the power of the theory through interpretative analysis of three teams as they adapt to use of a group decision support system over a period of eight months. The analyses highlight differences in technology impacts across the three teams and also explain some common outcomes. Our analytic approach appears to be useful in the study of organizational computing impacts in general and group decision support system effects in particular.
Keywords: Computing impacts, Structuration theory, Group decision support, Interpretive analysis
The Computing Paradigm Shift BIBAK 31-50
  John S. Quarterman; Smoot Carl-Mitchell
Over the last five years, there has been a shift from centralized to distributed computing. Timesharing and batch systems still have uses, but the large mainframe is no longer the only way to do computing. Networks have spread computing power, access, and costs beyond centralized computer centers. Personal computers have made computing accessible to many new users. Distributed computing attempts to bring the manageability of mainframe computing together with the accessibility of networked computing and the transparency of personal computing.
Keywords: Distributed computing, Client/server computing, Peer-to-peer computing, Open networking, Decentralization, Transparency, Interoperability, Portability, Transmission Control Protocol, Internet Protocol, Internet, Growth, Open Systems Interconnection, Standards, POSIX, 4.3BSD, UNIX timesharing system
Modeling the Going-Concern Judgment Using Argumentation Theory BIBAK 51-85
  Ai-Mei Chang; Andrew D., Jr. Bailey; Jane F. Mutchler; Andrew B. Whinston
A going-concern judgment is an important classification of a client that auditors are called upon to render. We study the collective group process of interpretation that auditors are engaged in by examining their individual interpretation processes and their interactions among themselves and with clients. The interpretation process leading to the going-concern judgment involves four phases: (1) recognizing any potential going-concern problems, (2) understanding the cause of those problems, (3) evaluating client plans to mitigate those problems, and (4) rendering a going-concern judgment. We capture the process underlying a going-concern judgment by representing the content and process of the interactions using an argumentation language.
Keywords: Going-concern judgment, Group process of interpretation, Argumentation theory, Auditing, Computer-supported collaborative work
Computer Support of Organization Design and Learning BIBAK 87-120
  Gail L. Rein; Clyde W. Holsapple; Andrew B. Whinston
Organization design is a pervasive phenomenon that significantly impacts performance, and yet organization design activity has received little direct support from computer technology. If organization learning is viewed as the process whereby knowledge is developed, then organization design both influences the organizational learning that occurs and is at least a partial reflection of the organizational learning that has occurred. This article examines the significance, bases, and means for developing multiuser, computer-based environments for supporting organization design and learning.
   The article introduces a working perspective of organization design and learning highlighted by three key ideas. Organization design and learning (1) is defined in terms of organization work, structure, and process; (2) is an ongoing evolutionary phenomenon; and (3) can and should be an inclusive, distributed, multiparticipant effort. The article identifies the requirements for computer-based technology that supports this working perspective and then presents an overview of a prototype technology that addresses these requirements.
   The prototype technology consists of two interacting components: Deva, an interactive, multiuser, graphical editor for managing process descriptions; and GPOD, an associated group process for using Deva for organization design. We conclude that such technologies will enable organizations to become self-organizing systems, thereby allowing them to compete more effectively and survive in today's rapidly changing environment.
Keywords: Organization design, Organization learning, Group design, Distributed design, Group process, Coordination technology, Collaboration Technology, Groupware
The Design of Coordination Mechanisms and Organizational Computing BIBAK 121-134
  John O. Ledyard
We provide an introduction to a theory of coordination mechanism design and show how to apply it to an assignment problem. The purpose is to introduce those familiar with organizational computing, but unfamiliar with game theory and economics, to the subject. We also describe briefly how we can test new mechanisms before taking them into the field. Finally, we raise some unresolved research questions.
Keywords: Assignment problem, Mechanism design, Incentive compatibility, Cooperation, Experimental economics

JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 2

An Agenda for Digital Journals: The Socio-Technical Infrastructure of Knowledge Dissemination BIBAK 135-193
  Brian R. Gaines
The problems of information overload from the growth of scholarly literature, and the need to use information technology to manage them, were identified by major writers and scientists over 50 years ago. Yet, the main form of scholarly communication, the journal, is still circulated in paper form as it has been for over 300 years. The economic arguments for using computer and communication technology to overcome these problems through a new form of scientific communication, the electronic or digital journal, were vigorously presented in the 1970s. Experimental trials of digital journals with the technologies of the 1970s and 1980s have not been successful. In the 1990s, the continuing value of current journal systems is again being questioned in terms of soaring library costs, the burden of the current refereeing system, and the diminishing returns of journal publication brought about by information overload. This article presents a fundamental examination of the prerequisites for the introduction of digital journals, at one level in terms of the role of journals in the social and economic processes of human knowledge production, and at another in terms of the state of the art in the relevant technologies. Models of the processes underlying the growth of knowledge in the literature on the philosophy, history, and psychology of science are first used to analyze the structure and role of the social infrastructure of journals, including the editorial and refereeing systems and the role of commercial publishers and libraries. The motivation for digital journals and past experience is surveyed, then the learning curves, and current costs and performances of the enabling hardware, software, communications, and interface technologies. Examples of the current impact of computer and communications technology on scholarly discourse are given to enable probable changes to be predicted in the structure of journals when they are transferred to digital form. Finally, the social and technological analyses are used to outline some architectures for a first generation of digital journals emulating the current medium, and for the evolution of later generations diverging in characteristics to take advantage of the new medium.
Keywords: Digital publication, Electronic journals, Document technology, Publishing, Sociology of scholarship
Supporting Collaboration in Digital Journal Production BIBAK 195-213
  Brian R. Gaines; Nicholas Malcolm
As digital journals come into use there arise new possibilities for the computer support of the group processes that are involved in developing, editing, reviewing, revising, annotating, and generally using a publication. There are now a number of products and research tools designed to support group-writing teams that can be extended to support a wider range of interacting roles and activities. Most, however, require use of nonmainstream word-processing systems, and usually assume that full information is continuously available through a network to mediate and avoid conflicts. In the context of digital journals, it is more realistic to suppose that they will be distributed through both on-line and off-line media, and that a requirement for continuous network access would severely limit their use. This article reports research on group-writing tools that deviate as little as possible from conventional word processors and assume only intermittent network connection for document exchange and conflict resolution. The system developed can be used by some people as a conventional word processor, by others as a versioning and text and sound annotation system, and by others as a full hypertext system, all while working with the same corpus of documents. It offers full typographic and page-layout facilities and imports typographic text from, and exports to, the mainstream commercial word processors so that users are not locked into a nonstandard technology. It is presented here as an example of the increased functionality that may be made available through a digital journal, supporting many of the current roles and activities involved in journal creation and use while deviating minimally from current journal and word-processing practice.
Keywords: Group writing, Collaboration, Groupware, Digital publication, Electronic journals, Document technology, Publishing
Cooperation Support Through the Use of Group Decision Systems BIBAK 215-243
  Piero Migliarese; Emilio Paolucci
This article considers the development of the group decision support system (GDSS) field both from organizational and technological perspectives. The growing importance of teamwork, lateral coordination, and activities integration inside modern business organizations is emphasized. Technological and knowledge specialization, quick transformation of business environments, reduction of response time, and so on, are some of the reasons that can explain the renewed relevance of teamwork. Also, the development of information technology (IT) is analyzed in relation to the role it is assuming in supporting group activities. Research in the GDSS field is then introduced. A proposal concerning the identification of three different phases in GDSS studies is developed, ranging from decision rooms to distributed systems. Each phase shows distinctive research topics and application fields, together with different organizational goals. Results of these developments are the growth of potential application areas of GDSS tools. These theoretical considerations, together with empirical experiences coming from the study of a real manufacturing environment (an IBM plant where group cooperation plays a fundamental role for production efficiency), constitute the basis for a research GDSS prototype (GROUPS). Prototype features are designed to support executives in facing production-planning problems through an improvement in communications and in knowledge representation.
Keywords: Group decision support systems (GDSS), Organizational analysis, Lateral coordination, Reactive scheduling, Knowledge-based reasoning

JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 3

Economics, Information Systems, and Organizations

Information Systems and the Organization of Modern Enterprise BIBAK 245-255
  Erik Brynjolfsson; Haim Mendelson
This article and the entire special issue address relationships between information systems and changes in the organization of modern enterprise, both within and across firms. The emerging organizational paradigm involves complementary changes in multiple dimensions. The revolution in information systems merits special attention as both cause and effect of the organizational transformation. This can be illustrated by considering two key variables: location of information and location of decision rights in organizations. Depending on the costs of information transmission and processing, either the "MIS solution" of transferring information or the "organizational redesign solution" of moving decision rights can be an effective approach toward achieving the necessary collocation of information and decision rights. When information systems change radically, one cannot expect the optimal organizational structure to be unaffected. Considering the interplay among information, incentives, and decision rights in a unified fashion leads to new insights and better organizational planning. The articles in this special issue address different facets of this interaction. Despite significant progress, our understanding of the economic role of information systems in organizations remains in its infancy. Successful design of modern enterprise will require additional narrowing of the historic gap between research in information systems and research in economics.
Keywords: Organizational design, Information systems, Economics
Analysis of Interorganizational Information Sharing BIBAK 257-277
  Seungjin Whang
Recent years have observed a number of interorganization information systems and electronic data interchanges through which multiple organizations share information. This article studies the incentives to share information when two or more companies are involved in a supplier-buyer relationship. We propose two models through which we pursue the question: What type of information will be shared? In the first model, we study the incentives for a production company to share its queue information with its customers. The release of queue information has a trade-off between loss of profits and efficient flow control, but we show that the supplier will share information under certain regularity conditions. The second model studies the incentive for a supplier to share price information with its buyer. As the buyer makes its quantity decision based on the price information fed by the supplier, the latter has to choose between keeping the communication channel alive for good news and benefiting from the buyer's uninformed purchase decisions. We show that, in most practical situations, the supplier will not voluntarily share its price information.
Keywords: Interorganizational information system, Incentives, Supplier-buyer relationship
Modeling Network Organizations: A Basis for Exploring Computer Support Coordination Possibilities BIBAK 279-300
  Chee Ching; Clyde W. Holsapple; Andrew B. Whinston
In recent years, network organizations have gained much attention as more and more of them have emerged in various industries. The problem of coordination within network organizations is an important one that differs in major ways from coordination within hierarchies or markets. We contend that computer technology has a potential for usefully supporting coordination efforts in networks. As a basis for studying such potential in a systematic way, a formal model of network organizations would be helpful, particularly to the extent that it represents coordination possibilities.
   From a long-term perspective, the success of a network organization depends on more than efficient transaction processing. It also depends on factors such as participant reliability, motivation, mutual trust, cooperation, creativity, and prudent evolution. All of these are related to the issue of a participant's value (past, current, ongoing, changing) to the network.
   We introduce a model that formalizes some key aspects of network organizations. At the heart of our formulation is a construct called "reputation," which encapsulates the many attributes that can characterize participants' past behaviors in a network. This model characterizes essential informational aspects of a network organization in a quantifiable form that lays a foundation for analyzing, designing, and implementing computer-based systems to facilitate network operation and growth. We use the model to discuss possibilities for computer-based support of network organizations at managerial and strategic levels, as complements to transaction-level Electronic Data Interchange-like systems.
Keywords: Networks, Virtual organization, Reputation
From Vendors to Partners: Information Technology and Incomplete Contracts in Buyer-Supplier Relationships BIBAK 301-328
  J. Yannis Bakos; Erik Brynjolfsson
As search costs and other coordination costs decline, theory predicts that firms should optimally increase the number of suppliers with which they do business. Despite recent declines in these costs due to information technology, there is little evidence of an increase in the number of suppliers used. On the contrary, in many industries, firms are working with fewer suppliers. This suggests that other forces must be accounted for in a more complete model of buyer-supplier relationships.
   This article uses the theory of incomplete contracts to illustrate that incentive considerations can motivate a buyer to limit the number of employed suppliers. To induce suppliers to make investments that cannot be specified and enforced in a satisfactory manner via a contractual mechanism, the buyer must commit not to expropriate the ex post surplus from such investments. Under reasonable bargaining mechanisms, such a commitment will be more credible if the buyer can choose from fewer alternative suppliers. Information technology increases the importance of noncontractible investments by suppliers, such as quality, responsiveness, and innovation; it is shown that when such investments are particularly important, firms will employ fewer suppliers, and this will be true even when search and transaction costs are very low.
Keywords: Buyer-supplier relationships, Incomplete contracts, Intangibles, Incentives
Hierarchical Elements in Software Contracts BIBAK 329-361
  Soon Ang; Cynthia Mathis Beath
Recent literature in information systems notes that software development outsourcing is increasingly prevalent, despite the complexity of managing development across organizational boundaries. Information systems researchers have used transaction cost and agency theories to propose incentive schemes to address this problem. Drawing on legal and organizational theories about contractual relations between firms, this article describes and illustrates a set of contractual elements, essentially hierarchical control mechanisms, that can contribute to the governance of external software development. Software outsourcing contracts using such elements should be viewed as hierarchical, rather than market, organizational forms, in that they are sheltered from the disciplining influence of market forces. Following transaction cost theory, the article proposes that the use of hierarchical elements will vary with transaction characteristics. Actual software contracts are content analyzed to lend empirical support to the propositions. Future research directions and content-analytic research designs appropriate for analyzing software contracts are then elaborated.
Keywords: Software development, Relational contracting, Outsourcing
Impacts of Information Technology on Organizational Size and Shape: Control and Flexibility Effects BIBAK 363-387
  Terry Barron
We argue that the study of information technology (IT) impacts on organizations has been hindered by the shortage of formal models from which empirically testable implications of such impacts can be derived. This article demonstrates the feasibility and usefulness of this approach by constructing and analyzing optimization models of the organizational design problem for a restricted class of hierarchical organizations. The literature suggests that two organizational characteristics likely to be affected by IT are organizational "flexibility" and the nature of organizational control problems. Thus, first, a particular concept of flexibility is defined and parameterized. Second, organizational design is formalized as an optimization problem having parameters for flexibility and control effects. Third, probable effects of four broad classes of IT on the model's parameters are spelled out and then analyzed via comparative statics and numerical experiments. One general result is that some types of IT impacts could have significant industry-level effects since large changes in the optimal organizational scale under profit maximization may result. Some specific hypotheses regarding the impacts of monitoring IT are also derived. Fourth, suggestions for the formulation of empirical models are given. The model shows that a careful understanding of the effects of a particular system is vital to predicting its impacts; for example, monitoring systems of different types can have impacts that are the opposite of one another. The model suggests that short, medium, and long-run effects of a given IT type can differ from one another, so that lagged effects of IT investments should be studied carefully, allowing for the possibility of different directions of change for different lags.
Keywords: Organizations, Computing, Organizational design, Effects of computing on organizational form, Economics of computing

JOC 1993 Volume 3 Issue 4

Virtual Organizations: Computer Conferencing and Organization Design BIBAK 389-416
  Frank A. Dubinskas
Computer conferencing systems link groups of users who "meet" in the virtual space of a computer and interact around a common purpose or topic. These electronically constituted and mediated groups can mirror, cross-cut, or hive off from existing organizational structures. This article reports a study of organizational structuring processes that accompany the introduction of a computer conferencing system in six industrial organizations. The relationships among technological capabilities and constraints, existing organization structures, managerial intent, and the unanticipated consequences of implementation for structural change are discussed. Employing the same software system in each case, organizational outcomes are radically different.
   Earlier analysts have focused on a contingency model of the organization-to-technology relationship. Computer conferencing systems, however, confound the distinction between technical and organizational systems; they exist in an overlapping border domain between their two parent systems. This article explores the character of this overlapping domain and proposes the terms "virtual group" and "virtual organization" to evoke the special status of groups created through computer conferencing. Virtual organizations are semiotic entities in Weick's [1] sense of equivoque, and their essentially ambiguous, interpretable character is important in shaping organizational outcomes. Virtual groups become part of the ongoing process of structuration [2], while also providing a new tool for organizational design.
Keywords: Computer conferencing, CSCW, Groupware, Flexible software and organizational design, Technology and equivocality, Virtual groups
Computer-Based Data and Organizational Learning: The Importance of Managers' Stories BIBAK 417-442
  David K. Goldstein
While many organizations are investing large amounts of money to provide computer-based data to their managers, little is known about how, or even whether, managers use these data to learn about the business environment. This issue is explored by examining how grocery product managers use supermarket scanner data to learn about changes in the marketing environment. Managers' stories play a central role in the four-step process used by one product management organization as it learns from analyzing computer-based data. First, a manager examines the data and looks for unexpected results -- findings that contradict one or more of her stories about the marketing environment. If something is found, the manager carries out a relatively unstructured, multistage process to make sense out of the unexpected result. This process can be viewed as a dialogue between the result and a set of tools at the manager's disposal (including analyses of computer-based data). Next, the manager tells the story to share her insights with peers and superiors, developing a common understanding. Finally, the manager creates an official story, which is used to "sell" new marketing approaches to people outside the product manager organization -- the sales force and supermarket buyers.
Keywords: Organizational learning, Decision support, Marketing information, Managerial learning, Stories, Story telling
Evolution of Group Performance Over Time: A Repeated Measures Study of GDSS Effects BIBAK 443-469
  Laku Chidambaram; Robert P. Bostrom
Many studies in the group decision support system (GDSS) literature have reported on the behavior and performance of ad hoc groups meeting for the first, and, in fact, the only time. Such one-time studies of groups may not represent their longer term behavior and performance accurately. Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST) conceives of technology use as a social practice that emerges over time. AST suggests that meeting outcomes reflect the extent to which structures offered by the technology (such as GDSS tool sequences, meeting agenda, etc.) are faithfully appropriated by the group. Such faithful appropriation, however, takes time. This article explicitly recognizes the relevance of this appropriation process and reports on a lab study that examined the impact of computer support on group performance over time. In general, results showed that the performance of computer-supported groups improved over time, whereas the performance of non-computer-supported groups stayed the same or declined. The number of alternatives generated by computer-supported groups increased considerably as they became more proficient in incorporating the technology into group processes. However, the quality of decisions made by computer-supported groups began to increase slightly, only during the last session. Both these findings suggest that AST is, in fact, a viable theory for studying group behavior and performance over time. Results from this study also point out the need for conducting more longitudinal studies of group processes in the future.
Keywords: Group decision support systems, Decision support, Group performance, Longitudinal research, Technology appropriation, Adaptive Structuration Theory