Why did you agree to serve on the ODC board?
First, I was very honored and surprised to be asked. I did not think of myself as a scholar of organization design. I had been a student of business historian Alfred Chandler, and was trained in financial economics. I study how technology shapes organization and industry structure using the tools of finance.
Along the way, I discovered that some of my thinking overlapped with that of early organization designers who were very conscious of technology as a force within organizations. This view fell out of fashion as corporations became larger and top managers became more “strategic” and less involved in front-line operations.
I also saw (along with many others in the ODC) that new digital technologies were giving rise to new forms of “more distributed” organization—ecosystems, platforms, and open-source communities. I thought being involved with ODC would put me on touch with other scholars who were also interested in these developments, and help me learn to speak their language. That wish has certainly come true! I’m very grateful to all the community members I’ve met for their warmth and willingness to share knowledge and ideas.
What are your aspirations for the Community?
I would like to see the Community grow and become a nexus for the exchange of cutting-edge work on organizations. I think it’s on track to achieve that goal. Selfishly, I’d like to see more attention paid to technology in the organization design literature. However, I think our tools for “capturing” the essence of technology in a rigorous, scholarly way are pretty poor at the moment. And what tools we have are scattered across a wide range of scholarly fields.
Carliss has a Doctorate and MBA from Harvard Business School, and an SB in Economics from MIT. She is the William L. White Professor of Business Administration at the Havard Business School and studies the process of design and its impact of design architecture on firm strategy, platforms, and business ecosystems.See profile at Harvard Business School