Special issue of Strategic Organization: "The question of intelligent technology: implications for strategy and organization"
Anastasia Sergeeva, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Linda Argote, Carnegie Mellon University (email@example.com)
Oliver Alexy, Technical University of Munich (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Paul Leonardi, University of California, Santa Barbara (email@example.com)
Samer Faraj, McGill University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What are the implications of intelligent technology for strategic organization scholarship? The field of strategic organization has defined its core focus to be on “the design, administration, arrangement, or structuring of an event, activity, practice, process, group, or system so that it will be most useful or have the greatest effect” (Baum et al., 2022: 683). Although the role of technology is recognized as important in this research, the conceptual vocabulary and focus has been on issues such as how organizational structures and processes are adopted for legitimacy (Meyer and Rowan, 1977), choosing organizational designs that minimize transaction costs (Williamson, 1991) and questions of the division of labor and its integration architectures (Puranam, 2018). Today, it is clear that technologies occupy a central role in all organizing processes. And with the swift proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), there are many new possible roles that technologies can play.
Many existing studies of technology within the broader research area of strategic organization have focused on how to use the opportunities provided by technology development to conceive of new business models, take advantage of shifting market boundaries, to mount new alliances, and to lead strategic change (for a summary, see Duhaime et al., 2021). The core conceptualization of technology remains as something that develops predominantly in the environment and strategy is about how best to deploy to improve existing processes or to develop new competencies and business models (e.g. Adner et al., 2019; Volberda et al., 2021).
We argue that the time is ripe to recognize how technology is more constitutive of strategy and organization than has so far been recognized. One reason for this is the steady ascendance of the so-called intelligent technologies that bring with them the potential of “intelligent organizing.” In particular, the promise of the current technologies is the emergence of more intelligent organizations, such as those where (1) machines could increasingly perform the tasks that previously relied on human intelligence (consider how large language models are already revolutionizing the generation of knowledge or how algorithms can coordinate distributed work activities), and where (2) human–technology hybrids, according to “augmentation thesis,” will be able to perform intelligent work with less effort and greater creativity; and where (3) technology may allow new forms of organizing to emerge.
These developments suggest that contrary to previous technologies that focused on replacing or enhancing human physical action, the new technologies potentially can reconfigure what used to be traditionally human intelligence tasks. This creates a need to re-examine existing theories of strategy and organizing where the human performing the task used to be at the center (Faraj and Leonardi, 2022). For example, we may need to update our understanding of the very conceptual bedrocks of organizational and strategy thinking such as organizational capabilities, resourcing, task and job distribution, knowledge creation and transfer, roles and networks, coordination, learning, business models, the boundary of organizations, and new forms of organizing. Papers in this special issue would ideally address concepts in strategy and organization that are now increasingly challenged by the emergent possibilities associated with new technologies.
This call for papers invites scholars from knowledge communities near to and far from Strategic Organization to submit conceptual and empirical work that can help us understand the newly emerging landscape. We especially welcome submissions that open up new theoretical domains or redirect the debate on technology and organizations. We are open to papers that employ qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods as well as thought pieces. To signal openness for the range of topics we are inviting, we refrain from providing a list of suggested research questions. Still, for a paper to be considered for the special issue, it is essential that the authors take both technology and strategizing seriously and unpack the relationship between technology and the process and practice of strategy and organization.
Timeline and submission instructions
All submissions should be uploaded to the Manuscript Central/ScholarOne website: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/so between 1 January and 31 January 2024. Once you have created your account (if you do not already have one) and you are ready to submit your paper, you will need to choose this particular Special Issue from the dropdown menu that is provided for the type of submission. Contributions should follow the directions for manuscript submission described on the SO webpage: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/soq. For queries about submissions, contact SO!’s editorial office at email@example.com. For questions regarding the content of this special issue, contact one of the guest editors.
Adner R, Puranam P, and Zhu F (2019) What is different about digital strategy? From quantitative to qualitative change. Strategy Science 4(4): 253–261.
Baum JA, Greenwood R, and Jennings PD (2022) Constructing strategic organization: A field whose time has come. Strategic Organization 20(4): 683–697.
Duhaime IM, Hitt MA, and Lyles MA (2021) Strategic Management: State of the Field and Its Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Faraj S and Leonardi PM (2022) Strategic organization in the digital age: Rethinking the concept of technology. Strategic Organization 20(4): 771–785.
Meyer JW and Rowan B (1977) Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology 83(2): 340–363.
Puranam P (2018) The Microstructure of Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Volberda HW, Khanagha S, Baden-Fuller C, et al. (2021) Strategizing in a digital world: Overcoming cognitive barriers, reconfiguring routines and introducing new organizational forms. Long Range Planning 54(5): 102110.
Williamson OE (1991) Comparative economic organization: The analysis of discrete structural alternatives. Administrative Science Quarterly 36(2): 269–296.