“Organizations and Communications Technology is must reading for those interested in the relation of communication technology to organizational form and function. The book does what many such collections do not do: It presents in a complementary–if not totally unified–fashion a variety of perspectives on and answers to questions raised about the essential nature, determinants, and effects of the organization-communication technology interface. Such coherence in theme and structure is not accidental; rather, it derives from the editors' commitment to a robust theoretical foundation in which to ground past and future research. … They have succeeded brilliantly in their efforts to focus substantive scholarship on theory building in a data-rich but theory-poor field. The result is a work that will no doubt be a classic. The reader who makes the commitment to mine its essays will not be disappointed.” –Journal of Business and Technical Communication “As a summary of the field, this collection of theoretical essays succeeds on two main counts. … First, it brings together in one volume writers whose recent work has been widely cited and discussed throughout the literatures of information science, communication, management, and technology studies. Second, the book presents some exciting theoretical ideas about the relationship between communication technologies and social behavior that are applicable beyond the organizational setting. … On the whole, this book is a fine overview that updates and lends structure–‘organizes’–this evolving literature for a diverse audience.” –Journal of Communication “The editors … argue convincingly that the study of human and organizational aspects of communications technology suffers from a glut of data and a deficiency of theory. The objective of the book becomes one of starting the process of developing a corpus of theory that will integrate the knowledge we have. Overall, the book achieves this objective well, with the gratifying addition that there are also plenty of practical recommendations of immediate value to the practitioner. … This is an ambitious book and given the importance of the topic this is inevitable. It is aimed at a broad range of disciplines. It is unashamedly theoretical in its approach yet contains a good deal of immediate practical importance. My own prediction … suggests that this book will be regarded as a milestone from which future progress will be measured.” –The Occupational Psychologist “Communications technology offers a wonderful springboard for much broader considerations of how people in organizations and behavior within them. Worthwhile … engaging.” –Academy of Management Review “Will interest any business communication scholar concerned with the ways organizations are affected by new technologies. … Provide[s] a wealth of stimulating ideas.” –Journal of Business Communication “Organizations and Communications Technology is an attempt to provide a foundation for theory development on information technology in organizations by delegating the task to a set of competent researchers and theorists. Given the dearth of theory development in the field such a strategy makes some sense. Because of (its) diversity, organizations, communications, and management information systems scholars should all find something of interest.” –Administrative Science Quarterly How do technology and organization interact to shape organizational structures and processes? What organizational, political, and social processes constrain technological development? What forces shape the articulation of organizational and technological systems? Answering these and other pivotal questions, this powerful volume centers on the role of theory for advancing our knowledge of communication technology in organizations at several levels: micro, group, and macro. A distinguished team of contributors examines a richly diverse group of topics, including telecommunications, communication networks and new media, the use of group decision support systems, and discretionary databases, to name but a few. Organizations and Communication Technology offers nothing less than a fresh foundation for research and management practice. As such, it is essential reading for scholars, practitioners, and students in the fields of management studies, communication science, organization studies, and policy studies.
On the Study of Technology and Task: A Variable-Based Approach
If one were to categorize the numerous studies of communication technology and organizations, two clear types would emerge: object-centered and actor-centered. One set of studies would be object-centered; that is, the researcher has initiated these studies because the technology, as a material thing, has some particularly interesting feature or features. Usually these studies are motivated by the uniqueness (and usually newness) of a technology. Rather than looking for similarities across technologies, the justification for performing a study is that this technology, as a material object, is different from all previous technologies.
These object-centered studies have a number of other features in common. First, they tend to focus ...