- Between Flexibility and Automation: An Evaluation of Web Technology from a Business Process Perspective - Web information systems hold great potential to streamline and improve business-to-business-transactions. However, not all Web technologies are equally suited to support the different business processes throughout their distinct phases. In this paper, we outline a framework to improve the conceptual design of Web-based information systems to support business-to-business transactions. The framework consists of three parts. The first part delineates the different phases of commercial transaction processes, part two introduces a model to evaluate process infrastructures, and part three categorizes Web technologies and underlying communication models. By combining the three parts, we can match available systems with the requirements of transaction processes in a structured way. This integration allows improving long-term process efficiency, and helps to identify areas where the information system functionality is currently inadequate.
- Creating a Constellation Organization - How can companies and other organizations in the new era of business balance one of their most paradoxical demands: to be very big and very small at the same time?
The answer is what might be called a "constellation organization": A number of autonomous but linked companies, business units, or other organizations orking together to achieve a new level of networked mutual support. A collection of interdependent, self-governing units sharing everything from corporate services to venture capital to customers to ideas to business models to supply chain relationships. A whole greater than the sum of its parts, managed very differently from a traditional industrial era company.
- The Japanese Firm May be Becoming too Rigid for Information-Sharing in the Digital Age - It has became a sort of fashion in Japan to refer to the 1990s as a "lost decade" because of its poor economic performance. In my view, however, the problem of the 1990s was not created simply by a mistake in macro-economic management, rigid bureaucratic regulations, lack of political leadership, moral hazard behavior of financial institutions and large borrowers, and so on, that happened only in that decade. For example, the financial crisis in the 1990s was the inevitable culmination of the failure of the financial sector to have adapted to changing international and technological environments already visible in the 1980s. In that sense, the lost decade rather started in the 1980s. Rather, in the 1990s the Japanese political-economy may be thought to have finally started its overdue efforts for changing the institutional arrangements, albeit only slowly and often in an invisible way. This institutional framework had worked well in several decades of economic growth in the twentieth century but have been rapidly becoming misfits with the emergent international, demographic, and technological environments. The symptom of a change may be seen as latent in the outcome of the recent election, but also in various spheres of micro-economy, including corporate organization domains. In this small commentary, I would like to point to some important organizational agenda of Japanese firms from historical and international perspectives. Specifically I would like to focus on the important impacts of IT revolution on firm's organization, by referring to the so-called Silicon Valley phenomena as a frame of comparison.
- The corporation is dead. Long live the constellation -
Last year, Cable & Wireless ran a series of glossy advertisements proclaiming that, "The firm is dead. Long live the federation." Great slogan. Too bad the sloganeer is in the process of getting slayed by the marketplace for never having figured out how to operate an alliance constellation. The lesson of Cable & Wireless is not that firms should abandon the idea of competing in groups, thereby dismissing the whole concept as faddish, freakish, or just too complex for the workings of a simple human head. That would be reactive and wrong. A better answer is that design matters. And that it is here, on the drafter's easel, where one will find sources of future comparative advantage.
- The Knowledge Enterprise in Information Space - As we move from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, the nature of enterprise, many propose, is being radically transformed. Indeed, a new "discipline" (or at least a new set of buzzwords), called Knowledge Management, is emerging to describe how one should conduct the activities of this new enterprise form.
There is considerable intuitive appeal to the notion that something is indeed different. Microsoft seems to be a very
different kind of enterprise than General Motors. But what precisely are those differences and which ones are important?
How can management or investors tell whether a given enterprise has them, and to what degree? Furthermore, if the
principles of knowledge management are being used within an enterprise, how does one know how well they are working?
To answer such questions I have found it helpful to think of commercial enterprises as existing and operating in a "space", which I call Information Space. In this space industrial age enterprises, such as General Motors of the 1950ıs, exhibit different characteristics, and therefore occupy a different region, than information age enterprises, such as Microsoft.
Information Space, as I define it, is quantifiable. In order to characterize its nature, (navigate through it, as it were) I have developed a number of new tools and techniques. These are presented here. In particular, the concept of Information
Intensity is introduced as a metric for differentiating between an Industrial Enterprise and the new information age form, which I call a Knowledge Enterprise. And the notion of IT Efficiency is presented as a way to determine how well a
Knowledge Enterprise is performing.
These two concepts, Information Intensity and IT Efficiency, comprise the two dimensions of Information Space. Some
eight hundred large U.S. companies have been analyzed to produce a characterization of its nature. To provide an intuitive basis for understanding Information Space, I begin with a review of the high-level, qualitative characteristics of the Knowledge Enterprise.
- The IT revolution and the future of hierarchies - Despite many philosophical hesitations concerning the impact of IT on culture and society, the role of IT is indisputable and crucial in the world of business. Within seconds one is able to gather all information about prices of a given product or securities in all different places and choose the best one. Electronic orders from all around the world can reach a seller immediately. Both buyer and seller can operate globally without leaving their offices. Information about legal regulations in different countries is available without special efforts and makes life of foreign investors more comfortable. It is often said that the IT revolution can strengthen or revive the spirit of entrepreneurship and ability to compete. The improvement of the organisational decision making process is one of the most obvious benefits of this revolution.
- On Economic Developments in the New Millennium - In the new millennium, the corporation as we've come to know it in the past 150 years will cease to exist. Gone will be the militaristic management hierarchies, the cubicle-dwelling clerks and the disgruntled factory workers. Corporations will be little more than brand names, covers for frequent-flying, cyberspace-cruising free-lancers who form virtual teams on wireless networks. There will be factories, but nobody will admit to owning them. Best of all, there will be no meetings. E-mail will make them obsolete.
Anyone who works at a big company, or even a medium-size one, knows that this vision of the "virtual corporation" is a stretch. Like hammers, conveyor belts and computers, corporations are tools that mankind uses to create more from less. Until we've abdicated our eagerness for efficiency -- not likely, even in the expanse of an entire millennium -- corporations will remain fixtures of economic life.
But they will change -- and how. For one, the emerging global economy means that a company working according to the standards and practices of one region will have to adapt to the realities of the next. For another, there will be more industries built on knowledge rather than physical stuff. And companies that rose to eminence by inventing or exploiting the technologies and social trends of the past century will find themselves having to repeat the act but with altogether different methods. As business heads into the next millennium, will big corporations get bigger, or will smaller cyber-entrepreneurs become the wave of the future? The big will get bigger through mergers and acquisitions, like the recent CBS-Viacom and Exxon-Mobile deals in the United States. With barriers to entry declining, entrepreneurs will play an increasingly large role in our economic future.
In the future, corporations will define more of their value by intangibles -- the creativity of their designers (Intel Corp. comes to mind), the proficiency of their software architects (as at Sun Microsystems Inc.), the knowledge of marketers (Procter & Gamble Co., for instance) and even the strength of the internal culture (as in the case of Hewlett-Packard).
- Global Inc. An Atlas of the Global Corporation - Global Inc. maps a small fraction of the 60,000+ multinational corporations. What we sought to do in this first atlas of the global corporation was to achieve as wide a breath of coverage as possible, conveying the scope and scale of the global corporation within the limits of a modest research project and the attendant budgetary restrictions - as well as the constraints of a book and the modern publishing business. We sought to give a perspective and overview on the history of the global corporation and the forcing functions that allowed it to come into being with such rapidity and impact. We also sought to examine the impact that the modern global corporation is having on the world - as well as some of the prerogatives that the nation state, city and community have for encouraging the most constructive aspects of the global corporation and discouraging or avoiding the negative qualities.
- Digital Infrastructure Report: Implications For the Chicago Region - The size and traditional boundaries of firms have become more permeable and fluid, as common information resources are pooled and made available via internal and external networks among the far-flung units of multinational corporations, their suppliers, and clients. Businesses that have realized strong productivity gains and growing profit margins from the use of information technology are most often those who have "re-engineered" their production and business processes: for example, "just-in-time" computer inventory management allows for supply decisions to be made on the basis of the most current information on demand, input availability, and capacity utilization. Such flexibility allows firms to provide "mass customization of products" and the "speedy delivery of goods and services" . Production processes are also made more efficient as the evelopment cycle for products is shortened, reducing costs and permitting better matching of product designs to market demands. Finally, successful firms have altered their internal incentive structure as well as marketing and outreach activities to take advantage of the ways in which information technology and advanced information infrastructure collapse time, geography, and in some cases cultural or political impediments to economic growth.
- The Post-Corporate World - Over the nearly 600 years since the onset of the Commercial Revolution, we have as a species learned a great deal about the making of money and we have created powerful institutions and technologies dedicated to its accumulation. But in our quest for money, we forgot how to live. Now, on the threshold of the third millennium we find our planet beset by growing climatic instability, disappearing species, collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, and eroding soils, while the institutions of family, community, and the nation-state disintegrate around us and the gap between rich and poor becomes more unconscionable by the day. Our obsession with money has led us to create an economic system that values life only for its contribution to making money. With the survival of civilization and perhaps even our species now at risk, we have begun to awaken to the fact that our living planet is the source of all real wealth and the foundation of our own existence. We must now look to living systems as our teacher, for our survival depends on discovering new ways of living and making our living - that embody life's wisdom.
- Connecting Networks Together - As businesses grow, networking demands increase: Departments consolidate, partner relationships become more integrated, and isolated networks need to be connected. Companies might need to link a satellite office to the company network. And it might become important to create a new network for finance and protect the links to prevent unauthorized access to data as well as improve performance during month-end processes. The way organizations use networks continues to evolve. For example, companies are starting to benefit from connecting partner information systems to better manage inventories.
- North of England Partners in TeleRegions - Northern Informatics was established with the support of the Regional Office of the UK Government Department of Industry, Universities, Local Authorities (NEA), TECs, ICL, Northumbrian Water, Northern Electric and BNFL Westlakes. It is registered as a company limited by guarantee with a non-profit distributing clause. The member organisations appoint the Board of Directors which comprises some of the leading figures from industry, education and commerce as well as the public sector in the region. It was set up to provide a focus for regional co-ordination and co-operation to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the process by which advanced telecommunications, telematics infrastructures and applications is established and promoted in the private and public sector in the North of England. Thus NI can provide a legal framework where individual members organisations can work collaboratively on regionally based projects.
- The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism - Global capitalism is not democratic and it systematically violates every principle of a market economy. Which sets up an interesting juxtaposition because it points to the possibility that there really is an alternative.
Living capital, which has the special capacity to continuously regenerate itself, is ultimately the source of all real wealth. To destroy it for money, a simple number with no intrinsic value, is an act of collective insanity -- which makes capitalism a mental, as well as a physical pathology.
To create a world in which life can flourish and prosper we must replace the values and institutions of capitalism with values and institutions that honor life, serve life's needs, and restore money to its proper role as servant. I believe we are in fact being called to take a step to a new level of species consciousness and function.
- The Real-Time Economy - In the real-time era, companies are focused on finding new ways to collaborate with not only their customers but also their suppliers and business partners. This turn toward "enterprise relationship management" or "collaborative commerce" promises to dramatically improve the capabilities of companies, enabling them to address the preferences and priorities of their customers in an increasingly impressive way. As companies place ever more attention on their relationships with partners in their networks of supply, they are becoming ever more effective at generating customer value and staving off competitors. Such trends are paying off big in terms of productivity and economic growth. As Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan explains, "the remarkable surge in the availability of more timely information in recent years has enabled business management to remove large swaths of inventory safety stocks and worker redundancies. Information access in real time has fostered marked reductions in delivery lead times and the related work hours required for the production and delivery of all sorts of goods."
- Capitalist Information Spaces and the Geography of Corporate Disclosure - The large, multi-locality capitalist firm has been associated with vital gatekeeping functions in society including providing access to important economic, social and environmental information. It is suggested that, for a variety of reasons, this access has worsened for many constituents. The geographic complexity of modern organizational structures is generally not matched by geographically differentiated disclosures of corporate events, economic and social performance, inter-organisational dependencies or corporate plans for the future. It is also posited that corporations have an inherent interest in "disconnecting" information thereby restricting its usefulness. The paper discusses corporate disclosure strategies as they relate to geographic segmentation and consolidation of information and focuses on some of the pros and cons of harmonizing disclosure practices across national boundaries.
- Organizing in the knowledge age: anticipating the cellular form - Business history has evolved from the machine age since the industrial revolution into the information age and then the knowledge era. New organizational trends kept on emerging. Vertically integrated entities paved the way for network organizations. Companies try out a new way of organizing known as the 'cellular form.' Cellular organizations such as Technical and Computer Graphics and the Acer Group are founded on the principles of entrepreneurship, self-organization and member-ownership. This type will be used in an environment where learning and innovation are continuous.
- Managing a company without walls: Management of relationships in a virtual organization - The first chapter of this paper provides a description of the virtual organization and describes virtualness as a strategy. The second chapter describes the history of the virtual organization. The third chapter is about the implications of societal changes and the virtual strategy for the management of relationships in the virtual organization: In which way do relationships in the virtual organization have to be managed? In the fourth chapter a conclusion about virtual management is drawn and discussed. The goal is to provide some guidelines for managers in an organization that's becoming virtual.
- Media: Mergers, Consolidation, Conglomeration - In an economic system that prides itself in allowing a free market there are often two opposing opinions that form when an industry comes to be dominated by a handful of companies: respect for the managers of the companies in achieving such dominant market positions and fear of the results of those positions. With most industries the fears center around trade practices, lack of choice for the consumers and the inhibition of progress due to lack of competition. While these fears would still hold true, the possibility of an oligopolistic situation in the media industry adds a few more: what are the effects on the culture, values and discourse within a society?
- Has democracy at last caught up with the corporation? - Humanity is becoming ever more profoundly dependent on the corporation, not only for the means of production (that has been true since the Industrial Revolution), but also for the technology of communication, the ganglia of social connection. A letter through the post connects one to government. A message conveyed by e-mail connects one to a corporation. The gain in convenience comes at a price in autonomy, perhaps not payable for decades and then only imperceptibly. In America's commercial civilization, Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, the power of government might prove a lesser threat to liberty than the excesses of freedom. The "cookies" planted by Internet companies to spy on our purchases as we click from site to site are just that kind of excess. If this subversion of individual liberty by economic freedom tokens the future, then the American political imagination, so long fixated on government's threat to private life, must change with the times. Madison's system of checks and balances protects us from government, but in the "privatized" society of power without accountability toward which we seem to be heading, what will protect us from the corporation?
- Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century - Paper - Few people foresaw the vast changes that would be wrought by the invention of the steam engine and the host of other mechanical devices that were the technological driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. Yet these advances completely transformed the nature of work as many of the old ways of organizing and managing business died away and new concepts emerged. The network of crafts and small cottage industries that had dominated the production of goods for centuries gave way to large centralized factories, and the concept of mass production not only opened the door to new opportunities and unprecedented growth, but also reshaped the way we live, work, and play.
"We are now at the threshold of a new era, driven this time not by the technologies of production and transportation, but by the technologies of information, communication, and coordination," says Thomas W. Malone, Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Information Systems at Sloan. "These technologies, guided by the organizational needs and human values that are important to us, hold the potential to completely transform the nature of work throughout the world."
- Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century - Intro - In 1994 the MIT Sloan School of Management launched a bold initiative in research and education called "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century." The mission of the center was to not only understand emerging ways of working, but also to invent entirely new and more effective approaches and put them into practice. The genesis of the effort was found in a unique point in our history. Sweeping political, economic, social and especially technological transformations have created a fundamentally new era of business characterized by unprecedented complexity and rapid change during the 1990s. These sweeping changes have produced startling setbacks for what have been some of the world's most successful companies, and at the same time brought great opportunity for new types of organizations. With a summary conference in 1999, on the eve of the New Millennium, the findings of the six-year effort were presented along with a manifesto for what we propose as an important way of thinking about the organizations of the next century. And while the center gives way to new activities in related areas such as eBusiness, the faculty, research and educational activities continue. This web site provides an overview of the center, its faculty and research. The two primary research projects - the Process Handbook and Interesting Organizations Database - will continue, as will several of the other individual faculty projects.
- Two Scenarios for 21st Century Organizations - Imagine that it is now the year 2015....
The corporation of the late twentieth century was just a transitional form. It lasted more than one hundred years, but few corporations of that kind remain today. Now, looking back at the "dinosaur" era in which General Motors, Microsoft, and Sony stalked the earth, we are most aware of the tiny "mammals"-entertainment production companies, construction project teams, and consultant work-groups-which operated without much public notice back in the 1990s, only to become the prototypes of today's modern organization. Today, nearly every task is performed by autonomous teams of one to ten people, set up as independent contractors or small firms, linked by networks, coming together in temporary combinations for various projects, and dissolving once the work is done. When a project needs to be undertaken, requests for proposal are issued or jobs to be done are advertised, candidate firms respond, sub-contractors are selected, and workers are hired largely on an ad-hoc basis.
- Why Software Should Not Have Owners - Digital information technology contributes to the world by making it easier to copy and modify information. Computers promise to make this easier for all of us. Not everyone wants it to be easier. The system of copyright gives software programs "owners", most of whom aim to withhold software's potential benefit from the rest of the public. They would like to be the only ones who can copy and modify the software that we use. The copyright system grew up with printing - a technology for mass production copying. Copyright fit in well with this technology because it restricted only the mass producers of copies. It did not take freedom away from readers of books. An ordinary reader, who did not own a printing press, could copy books only with pen and ink, and few readers were sued for that. Digital technology is more flexible than the printing press: when information has digital form, you can easily copy it to share it with others. This very flexibility makes a bad fit with a system like copyright. That's the reason for the increasingly nasty and draconian measures now used to enforce software copyright.
- Organization and world design - We live in a society of organizations, therefore the discovery of new organizing methods may be our best chance to solve many of the worldıs most complex problems. Yet deficiencies in current theory prevent us from identifying emergent opportunities to address critical issues - such as ecological destruction, social injustice, and gross economic inequities. This case-study analysis explores how community-based organizing approaches can enable firms to align ecological, social, and financial objectives. The case explores how a for-profit, start-up firm - with an explicit mission to promote environmental and social welfare - organizes customers and employees into communities around areas of shared interest or practice. This approach will enable the firm to develop "moral markets" that value its emphasis on ecological goals and its commitment to build extraordinary levels of passion and competence among geographically distributed employees. This "revelatory" case generates a number of hypotheses that suggest areas for further research, including applications of community organizing methods on a worldwide scale.
- The Web of Consumption: The Spatial Organization Of the Internet Industry in the United States - Available in pdf format only.
- Diversity Means Business - Many companies persist in acknowledging diversity only as it pertains to affirmative action programs or selection and hiring practices. However, organizations are increasingly using diversity initiatives to develop an environment of cooperation and communication that encourages members to value and express differing ideas and viewpoints. From this perspective, valuing diversity is not merely recognizing the legitimacy of differences, but relying on these differences for competitive advantage.
- The Millennium: One Thousand Years of Finance & Companies - Without the corporation, the technological advances of the 18th century couldn't have been quickly harnessed: Few entrepreneurs on their own could afford to install efficient -- but hugely expensive -- new steam engines, for example. But with its structure, and its ability to raise money from outside investors, the corporation offered all sorts of economies of scale.
- Bad Company: How To Civilize The Corporation - Today's version of the corporation evolved about 150 years ago, at a time when space seemed vast and earthıs resources even vaster. The economic task was simple: cover the continent, exploit its resources, build a muscular industrial machine equal to those of Europe. It was simply to grow. Today the task is more complex. The habitat can no longer absorb all the effluents of our striving -- nor, for that matter, can we. The noxious side effects of production often loom larger than the supposed benefits; the factory that employs hundreds may befoul the water that is used by millions.
- Corporate Information - One of the many starting points to find corporate information, Corporate Information is a user friendly and free database of over 300,000 companies with financial info and analysis.
- Technology in Manufacturer/Retailer Integration Between Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble - This article is a first-hand account of how Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart, through a strategic supply-chain partnership, leverage on information technology to integrate their channel processes. Mr. Graen is the manager of the Information Systems group that located permanently near Wal-Martıs headquarters in Arkansas and is responsible in large measure for the integration and information partnership. This integration of the supply-chain information systems will become increasingly important for enhancing not only business-to-business electronic commerce, but also for supporting the increasing volume and customization in business-to-consumer electronic commerce.
- Tying the Knot - Large scale mergers and acquisitions continue to dramatically reshape Canada's food industry as the big grocery chains lead the charge for customer loyalty.
- Evolution of Keiretsu and their Different Forms - Japan before the war was dominated by four large Zaibatsus (closer historical background in the text): Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo, and Yasuda . These were involved in steel, international trading, banking and other key sectors in
the economy and controlled by a holding company which established financial links between the different members.
Large, influential banks were part of these conglomerates, providing necessary funds. ... These conglomerates are now called Keiretsu. Some emerged out of former Zaibatsus but others were just new groupings of companies.
- Capitalist Information Spaces and the Geography of Corporate Disclosure - The large, multi-locality capitalist firm has been associated with vital gatekeeping functions in society including providing access to important economic, social and environmental information. It is suggested that, for a variety of reasons, this access has worsened for many constituents. The geographic complexity of modern organizational structures is generally not matched by geographically differentiated disclosures of corporate events, economic and social performance, inter-organisational dependencies or corporate plans for the future. It is also posited that corporations have an inherent interest in "disconnecting" information thereby restricting its usefulness.
- Internal Markets - In a decade or so, our prevailing notion of management may seem as archaic as the medieval belief in the divine right of kings. Instead of today's fervent conviction that organizations must inevitably be top-down, hierarchical pyramids of power and constraining rules, the idea of market metastructures should create a different form of entrepreneurial management based on the same principles that guide external market systems.
- Knowledge Management Magazine
- What is Knowledge Management?
- Journal of Systemic Knowledge Management - Knowledge management is the next logical step beyond the learning organisation. This is the first journal to bring together theory and case studies in this hot topic.
- Smart Alliances: strategic alliance best practices and practical advice on alliances - This site is intended to provide information on the fast growing and challenging world of Strategic Alliances.
- The Big Ideas: Articles From Experts And Executives Who Shape What Business People Discuss
- Corporate Predators by Mokhiber and Weissman
- The Rise of the Cultural Creatives - A new phenomenon is emerging in American culture, according to the results of a recent social research survey. We are at a watershed in history, when the country is shifting away from the modern technocratic society toward what sociologist Paul H. Ray calls "Integral Culture," concerned with spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, and the worth of the feminine.
- Co-op America: Market Is Ready for Socially Responsible Business
- Strategies for Business Success in a Shrinking World
- The Basics of Business History: 100 Events That Shaped a Century
- Hazel Henderson Articles - Perspectives on Business and Global Change
- Mapping Is The Key To Adopting A Horizontal Corporate Structure
- The Public Cost of Private Corporations
- Corporate Links
- Institutions in the Age of Mindcrafting
- Top 20 Business Economics Web Sites
- Silent Coup: Confronting The Big Business Takeover Of Canada
- ISO Kaizen Blitz
- When Corporations Rule the World
- The Corporate Planet
- Digital Communications Contribute To New And More Complex Forms Of Corporate Integration
- Cooperation is a Meaningless Term
- Cooperative Strategies And Interorganizational Linkages, Or Quasi-Integration
- Economic Niche Guidelines
- What's New? Reintermediation
- The Effects of Information Technologies on Commodity Marketing Firms and Strategies
- The Impact of the Global Political Economy on Corporate Strategy
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