Autumn Semester 2020 takes place in a mixed form of online and classroom teaching.
Please read the published information on the individual courses carefully.

364-1013-01L  Organizations and Technical Change

SemesterAutumn Semester 2016
LecturersS. Brusoni
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


AbstractThis 1-credit module is designed to introduce students to selected topics focused on the relationship between technical change and organizational dynamics.
ObjectiveThe objectives of this module are:

1) to provide students with a relatively detailed understanding of some of the major theoretical perspectives and their developments in the field of innovation and technical change
2) to illustrate how these perspectives have evolved
3) to discuss how they can be operationalized
4) and, on these bases, develop the ability of constructively criticising them in order to learn how 'to build upon and extend' extant research in the field
ContentSession 1. Technology rules. Once upon a time, people believed that technology determines organization. What techniques we use explain how we organize around them. If there is no fit to the technique, then there is failure. Powerful, simple, predictive, engineer-friendly. Occasionally correct, too.

Session 2. Never Mind the Bollocks ... Once upon a time, people believed that technologies were fully malleable to social dynamics. Marxists, social constructivists and management gurus (still) share great optimism in the human ability of solving technical problems, once the right organizational processes are in place. Revolutionary, ambitious, path-breaking. Occasionally buffling, though.

Session 3. It takes two to tango: Technological and organizational dynamics. And last, the big compromise, or the balance finally found? It is not white. It is not black. But it is not grey either. Pragmatic, practical, progressive. Relevant? Actionable?
LiteratureSession 1.
1. Henderson, R. M. and K. B. Clark (1990), Architectural Innovation: the reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of established firms, Administrative Science Quarterly, 35: 9-30.
2. Dosi G. (1982). Technological paradigms and technological trajectories: A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change. Research Policy. 11 (3): 147-162.
3. Baldwin C. and K. Clark. 2006 The Architecture of Participation: Does Code Architecture Mitigate Free Riding in the Open Source Development Model? Management Science 52 (7): 1116-1127
4. Von Hippel, E. (1990) Task Partitioning: An Innovation Process Variable, Research Policy 19, 407-418.
5. Brusoni, S., Prencipe A. and K. Pavitt (2001) Knowledge Specialisation, Organizational Coupling and the Boundaries of the Firm: Why Firms Know More Than They Make?, Administrative Science Quarterly, 46 (4): 597-621.
6. Pavitt K. (1984). Sectoral patterns of technical change: towards a taxonomy and a theory. Research policy 13 (6): 343-374

Session 2. Never Mind the Bollocks: organizations rule.
1. Marglin 1974. What do bosses do? The origins and function of hierarchy in capitalist production. Review of Radical Political Economics. 6 (2): 60-112
2. Sewell Jr, William H. "A theory of structure: Duality, agency, and transformation." American journal of sociology (1992): 1-29.
3. Barley, S.R. (1986). Technology as an Occasion for Structuring: Evidence from Observation of CT Scanners and the Social Order of Radiology Departments. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31: 78-108.
4. Hargadon A. and R. Sutton (1997), Technology Brokering and Innovation in a Product Development Firm, Administrative Science Quarterly, 42 (4): 716-749.
5. Garud R and M A Rappa (1994) A Socio-Cognitive Model of Technology Evolution: The Case of Cochlear Implants. Organization Science. 5 (3): 344-362
6. Tripsas, M., and G. Gavetti 2000. Capabilities, cognition and inertia: Evidence from digital imagining. Strategic Management Journal, 21: 1147-1161.

Session 3. It takes two to tango: technological and organizational dynamics
1. Adler, P. S., and B. Borys (1996) Two types of bureaucracy: Enabling and coercive. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41: 61-89.
2. Kaplan S (2008) "Framing Contests: Making Strategy Under Uncertainty," Organization Science. 19 (5): 729-752.
3. Feldman M. (2000) Organizational routines as a source of continuous change. Organization Science, 11: 611-629..
4. Gilbert CG. (2005) Unbundling the Structure of Inertia: Resources vs. Routine Rigidity. Academy of Management Journal, 48: 741-763
5. Hutchins, E. 1991. Organizing work by adaptation. Organization Science, 2: 14-39.
6. Edmondson, A. C., R. M. Bohmer and G. P. Pisano 2001 Disrupted routines: Team learning and new technology implementation in hospitals. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46: 685-716.
Prerequisites / NoticeOn each session, students will have two assignments: 1) prepare a summary and critique of at least one of the readings for the day; 2) come prepared to critically discuss all the readings for the day. For the critique, readings will be preassigned in advance of each sessions.

Further info on assignments will be circulated by email before the start of the course.