Artifacts that Organize: Delegation in the Distributed Organization


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Abstract: Increasingly, organizations are deploying automated modes of technology-supported coordination that seek to replace rather than enhance human communication. To study this phenomenon, we extend Bruno Latour’s concept of delegation and apply it to thorny questions around the work of sustaining organization over space and time. As we show with two cases from the Open Science Grid, delegation is complex, fragile, and central to the nature of contemporary organizing. Specifically, we argue that delegation: 1) reconfigures the organization of work; 2) transforms how outcomes are accomplished; 3) redistributes responsibility for organizational decision-making; and 4) shifts the visibility and invisibility of both actors and their work.

Recommended citation: Ribes, David, Steve Jackson, R. Stuart Geiger, Matt C. Burton, and Tom Finholt (2012). “Artifacts that organize: Delegation in the distributed organization.” Information and Organization 23:1–14.