SWG 11: Digital Technology, Media and Organization

 

Coordinators:

Armin Beverungen, University of Siegen, Germany  armin.beverungen@uni-siegen.de
Mikkel Flyverbom, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark  mf.msc@cbs.dk
Robin Holt, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark  rh.mpp@cbs.dk
Marleen Huysman, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands  m.h.huysman@vu.nl
 

This Standing Working Group (SWG) 11 will primarily be concerned with reflecting on digital technology, media and organization, where the aim is to gather and then catalyse this emerging interest, also though a transdisciplinary conversation with science, technology and media studies, and so make the importance of digital transformations visible and relevant for organization studies – theoretically, empirically and practically.

Digital technologies profoundly shape organizational life. Operating as tools, infrastructures and resources, digital technologies are increasingly inseparable from organizational activities. Most of contemporary work-life and organizational practice is interwoven with digital technologies and media, with far-reaching consequences for, among other things, work processes (Zuboff, 2018), communication (Leonardi, Huysman & Steinfield, 2013), strategy (Haefliger et al., 2011) labour (Beverungen et al., 2015) and knowledge production (Hansen & Flyverbom, 2014). However, its ubiquity and pervasiveness is often taken for granted and partly invisible, producing what some have called a ‘black box society’ (Pasquale, 2015).

Digital technologies have fundamental implications for societal and organizational transformation: for innovation and entrepreneurship, for organizational agency, learning and decision-making, for shifts in existing and the emergence of new organizational forms, for the functioning of markets and alternative economies, and for issues of power, control and resistance. Ultimately, the intimate and complex relationship between digital technologies, media and organization has significant implications for how we come to understand organizing itself. Surprisingly, the pervasive nature of digital media technology has only recently been reflected in our primary scholarly community, EGOS.

The turn to digital technology and media in organization studies can build on organizational scholarship in the fields of science and technology studies, information systems theory (e.g. Yoo et al., 2010; Constantiou & Kallinikos, 2015; Newell & Marabelli, 2015) sociological research on media technology, data and algorithms (Gillespie et al., 2014) and related engagements with digitalization and the materiality of
 

organizing (e.g. Chia, 1998; Jones 2014, Leonardi et al., 2012; Czarniawska & Hernes, 2005). It can draw inspiration from research on innovation, information systems and organizational communication. And it can integrate epistemological and methodological insights afforded by process-based theories and their insistence in understanding organization as ever in movement, as situational outcome of forces of organizing. Yet, in organization studies, issues related to technology have often been neglected, and the engagement with contemporary digital transformations, such as the internet, social media, ‘big data’ and ubiquitous computing, remains scattered. Arguably, as a field, organization studies has only just started to problematize the fundamental interrelation of digital technology, media and organizing.
 
Digital technology is seen as the dominant technology of our times, bringing forth the spread of computation into all kinds of technologies and things through ‘ubiquitous computing’, and their networking in organizational supply chains and the ‘internet of things’. Resulting from the ubiquity of such digital infrastructures, processes of ‘datafication’ and a growing reliance on algorithmic operations (Mayer-Schönberger & Cukier, 2013) also play increasingly important roles in organizational settings.

This SWG therefore encourages an encounter also with contemporary media and technology studies, which has recognized the organizational capacities of digital media, specifically their ability to not just store, transmit and process information, but also to move data, shape human action and govern things (Peters, 2015; Rossiter, 2016).
 
Twitter: @SWG_DTMO
 

References

  • Chia, R. (ed.) (1998): Organized Worlds. London: Routledge.
  • Beverungen, A., Böhm, S., Land, C. (2015): “Free Labour, Social Media, Management: Challenging Marxist Organization Studies.” Organization Studies, 36 (4), 473–489.
  • Constantiou, I. D., & Kallinikos, J. (2015): “New Games, New Rules: Big Data and the Changing Context of Strategy.” Journal of Information Technology, 30 (1), 44–57.
  • Czarniawska, B., Hernes, T. (eds) (2005): Actor-Network Theory and Organizing. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.
  • Gillespie, T., Boczkowski, P.J., Foot, K.A. (eds.): (2014) Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Hansen, H.K., Flyverbom, M. (2014): “The Politics of Transparency and the Calibration of Knowledge in the Digital Age.” Organization, 22 (6), 872–889.
  • Haefliger, S., Monteiro, E., Foray, D., & von Krogh, G. (2011): “Social Software and Strategy.” Long Range Planning, 44 (5), 297–316.
  • Jones, M. (2014): “A Matter of Life and Death: Exploring Conceptualizations of Sociomateriality in the Context of Critical Care.” Mis Quarterly, 38 (3), 895–925.
  • Leonardi, P.M., Huysman, M., & Steinfield, C. (2013): “Enterprise Social Media: Definition, History, and Prospects for the Study of Social Technologies in Organizations.” Journal of ComputerMediated Communication, 19 (1), 1–19.
  • Leonardi, P.M., Nardi, B.A., & Kallinikos, J. (eds.) (2012): Materiality and Organizing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Mayer-Schönberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013): Big data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Newell, S., & Marabelli, M. (2015): “Strategic Opportunities (and Challenges) of Algorithmic Decision-Making: A Call for Action on the Long-Term Societal Effects of ‘Datification’.” The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 24 (1), 3–14.
  • Pasquale, F. (2015): The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Peters, J.D. (2015): The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Rossiter, N. (2016): Software, Infrastructure, Labor: A Media Theory of Logistical Nightmares. London: Routledge.
  • Yoo, Y., Henfridsson, O., & Lyytinen, K. (2010): “Research Commentary: The New Organizing Logic of Digital Innovation: An Agenda for Information Systems Research.” Information Systems Research, 21 (4), 724–735.
  • Zuboff, S. (2018): Master or Slave? The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization. New York: Public Affairs.

About the Coordinators

Armin Beverungen is Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany. He holds a BA(Hons) in organization studies from Lancaster University, an M.Phil in sociology from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in critical management studies from the University of Leicester. He previously worked as senior/lecturer at the University of the West of England, and as the Junior Director of the Digital Cultures Research Lab at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg. From 2007 to 2016, he was a member of the editorial collective of the journal ephemera: theory & politics in organization (ephemerajournal.org), which regularly publishes interdisciplinary work concerned with digital media technologies and organization. He is a founding editor of the journal spheres: Journal for Digital Cultures (spheres-journal.org) and the book series Digital Cultures (http://meson.press/series-page/digital-cultures-series/). Armin’s work has been published in journals such as Organization Studies, Human Relations, Organization, Urban Studies, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Culture and Organization and The Fibreculture Journal.
 
Mikkel Flyverbom is Professor (MSO) of Communication and Digital Transformations at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark He holds MAs from the New School for Social Research (USA) and Roskilde University (Denmark), a PhD from Copenhagen Business School, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, University of California, San Diego, and City University of New York. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal Big Data & Society, on the Advisory Board of the think tank DataEthics, and the recipient of a Google Research Award for his work on digital transformations and transparency. His main research interests concern how digital technologies shape communication and governance processes in organizational settings. More specifically, his current work explores organizations engage with digital transformations, such as digital technologies, ‘big data’ and internet infrastructures that unsettle established ways of working and thinking. With a background in communication, his work also draws on insights from organization and management studies and sociology. Recent journal and book publications address how the internet has emerged as a key concern in global politics, how ‘big data’ relates to knowledge production and governance, how transparency ideals shape the internet domain, and how power and visibilities intersect.
 
Robin Holt is a Professor of Entrepreneurship, Politics and Society at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and has a research and teaching background in organization studies, political theory and linguistic philosophy. He is currently working on questions of judgment and technology in strategic and entrepreneurial practice. He also has a long-standing interest in craft production, having published studies of the fashion industry and pottery. He has been a convenor on a number of EGOS sub-themes as well as being co-convenor of the Standing Working Group in Process Studies. He is currently Co-editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.
 
Marleen Huysman is Full Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She is Head of the Department of Information, Logistics and Innovation andthe KIN Research Group (www.kinresearch.nl). She studied sociology of technology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and holds a PhD from VU Amsterdam. She is (co)author of international books and articles such as MIS Quarterly, Organizational Studies, JMS, JCMC, Communication Research, Journal of IT. Her main research interest concerns how digital technologies shape changing knowledge, work and collaboration practices in organizational settings. She uses theories and perspectives taken from the sociotechnical tradition, such as actor network theory, practice theory and sociomateriality. Her current work explores organizations engage with digital transformations, such as Internet of Things, Robots, AI, digital nomads, crowdsourcing, social media, ‘big data’ and digital platforms.