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TECHNOLOGY

Chapter 5

Mary Jo Hatch with Ann L. Cunliffe


3 Perspectives on Technology…

Technology is the means of converting raw


materials into finished outputs. It consists
of objects, tasks, and knowledge.
Technology determines structure.

Technology both shapes and is


shaped by social interactions -
through routines and improvisations.

Technology is a form of remote


control, discipline & power. It can also
liberate.
Fig. 5.1 The Organization as a Technical System

Transformation
Inputs Outputs
Process
Task
Technology -
Unit Levels of
Analysis
Organizational

Societal
Technologies

Work processes,
Tools & activities,
equipment procedures,
techniques,

Knowledge &
skills
Modernist Definitions of Technology

Core technology

High technology

Service technology
Woodward was
looking for the one Strategy
best way to
organize . . .
Structure

Strategy
. . . she found that
the best way
depended on Technology
technology:

Structure
Figure 5.2 Woodward’s Technical Complexity Scale
Low
Production of single pieces to customer orders

Small batch and Production of technically complex using one by one


unit production Fabrication of large equipment in stages
Production of pieces in small batches
Production of components in large batches subsequently
assembled diversely
Large batch and Production of large batches, assembly line type
mass Technical
Mass production complexity
production
Continuous process production combined with the
preparation of a product for sale by large batch or mass
production methods
Continuous
process Continuous process production of chemicals in batches
production Continuous flow production of liquids, gases, and solid
shapes
High
Small Batch

One product is produced


at a time, or in small
amounts
e.g., custom products, wine
Large Batch

Large quantities of
identical products using
highly routinized and often
mechanized procedures
e.g. assembly line
Continuous Process

Raw material is fed


into one end of the
process and flows
continuously through
the system
e.g. oil, beer, sewage,
electricity
Table 5.1 Findings from Woodward’s study
Structure dimension Technology

Unit Mass Continuous


Production production process

Levels of management 3 4 6
Span of control 23 48 15
Ratio direct to indirect labor 9:1 4:1 1:1
Administrative ratio low medium high
Formalization (written) low high low
Centralization low high low
Verbal communication high low high
Skill level of workers high low high
Overall structure organic mechanistic organic
Thompson added services to the typology

Manufacturing technology
Tangible product
Products can be held in inventory
Service technology
Capital intensive
Intangible output
Production and consumption
simultaneous (no inventory)
Knowledge and labor intensive
Figure 5.3 Thompson’s Matrix of Technologies

TRANSFORMATION PROCESSES

standardized non-standardized
standardized
INPUTS/OUTPUTS

Long-linked ?
non-standardized

Mediating Intensive
Figure 5.4 Perrow’s Typology
TASK VARIABILITY
low high
TASK ANALYZABILITY

high

Routine Engineering
(assembly line) (accounting)

Craft Non-routine
low

(construction) (R & D)
Perrow’s Types of Technology
Symbolic-Interpretive Perspective on
Technology

Technology is socially constructed as people interact


with and around it. This process includes:

• Physical objects, equipment, symbols (words & images)


and metaphors.
• Task activities, actions, interactions.
• Knowledge and interpretation.
New Technologies (Weick)

Three properties make new technologies (e.g. nuclear reactors, robotics,


spacecraft) more non-routine than those in the past:

 Stochastic – unexpected interruptions due to dense interactions


among many components and to unique problems.
 Continuous – fully automated, workers keep system running
while system does the work.
 Abstract – working processes are hidden so operators must
develop symbolic and conceptual models of what is
going. These can diverge from actual system
performance.
The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT)

Technology is co-constructed
by environmental, social,
cultural, economic, and
technical factors.

Machines have a technical, historical,


and a social presence.
Postmodernism & Technology

• Technology can imprison us if we become subservient to its


needs (Heidegger).

• Technology is a means of controlling behavior and disciplining


organizational members.

• Technology can liberate (globalization, knowledge, democracy).


Technologies of Representation

Managing by remote control


through symbolism, simulations,
procedures, computers, systems
etc.
Technologies of Control

Technology, power, and social control are interwoven.

 People are evaluated on their ability to contribute to the


efficiency of the system: efficiency -> power -> imprisonment?
 Knowledge becomes a commodity, only relevant if it can be
translated into information.
 Power struggles will occur over the control of information.
 The growth of cyberveillance.
 A means of greater democracy and resistance.
Cyborgization

- A postmodern self of ambiguity,


multiple identities, partial
connections, and simulated
consciousness which results
from dualisms.

- A metaphor for examining the


relationship between the body,
social order, and historical and
political repression.

- A technological/human
organization.
The Technological Imperative
Technology determines structure …

Woodward (1965)
The degree of technical complexity will affect structure. Organizations can be
successful if they align strategy, structure, and technology.

Perrow (1970)
Technology influences the degree of uncertainty in work, which in turns affects
the appropriate organizational design and management style. These may vary
across departments.

Thompson (1967)
Technology will affect the degree of interdependence and therefore the need for
coordination and therefore which type of structure is best.
Figure 5.5 Woodward’s view of technology
Small Mass Continuous
HIGH Batch Production Processing
Routineness of work

assembly
workers

artisans technicians,
scientists

artists design engineers

LOW HIGH
Technological complexity
Figure 5.6 Woodward’s Routineness &
Perrow’s Task Typology

ro
ut VARIABILITY
in
en
es low high
s
ANALYZABILITY

high

Routine Engineering
low

Craft Non-routine
Inputs Transformation Inputs

Pooled task interdependence


Processes
Mediating

A's
technology
Client 1 Client 2
tasks
+
Client 3 B's Client 4
tasks
+
Figure 5.7

C's
Client 5 Client 6
tasks

Outputs
Figure 5.8 Long-linked technology

Transformation Process

A's B's C's


Inputs Outputs
tasks tasks tasks

Sequential task interdependence


Figure 5.9 Intensive technology

Transformation
Process
A's
tasks
Inputs Outputs
B's C's
tasks tasks

Reciprocal task
interdependence
Links between Thompson’s Technology, Task
Interdependence and Coordination Mechanisms

Type of Task Coordination


Technology Interdependence Mechanism

Mediating Pooled Rules and procedures

Long-linked Sequential Schedules

Intensive Reciprocal Mutual adjustment


Table 5.2 Guttman Scale of Relationships

Task Rules & Schedules & Mutual


Interdependence Procedures Plans Adjustment

Pooled X
Sequential X X
Reciprocal X X X
Figure 5.10. HOW MODERNIST THEORIES
ARE ELABORATED
Woodward Technology

Structure Performance

Galbraith Communication

Technology Structure

Technology
Combining Woodward &
Galbraith
Communication

Structure Performance
Adaptive Structuration Theory

• Technology and social structure emerge in interactions


between people and technology.

• We follow routines and we also improvise as we use


technology - technologies-in-practice. (e.g. an accountant
and graphic artist might use the same software differently).

• We shape technology and it shapes us.


1. Old-Fashioned Toffee (Candy) Making –
Boiling & Mixing
3. Toffee Making – Stretching & Cutting
4. Toffee Making – Shaping & Cutting