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From senses to sensors: Strategies for maintaining and enhancing competence in a virtual organization
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
2007 (English)In: Proceedings of IFIP 8.2/9.5 Conference on Virtuality and Virtualization / [ed] Crowston K., Sieber S., Wynn E., 2007, 281-293 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One key dimension of the virtualization of the workplace is the formation of new types of partnerships where organizations let internal functions be handled by an external partner, the so called outsourcing of services. The formation of an outsourcing partnership imposes the risk of knowledge-drainage on the client organization as specific internal competence decreases when the service provider takes over the technological knowledge and has a significant impact on the business processes in general. The aim of this paper is to address the issue of partnership outsourcing and to explore strategies that are used to keep the competence within the client organization even as it opens itself up to the partnership. Based on the framework of Four Outsourcing Relationship Types provided by Kishore et al. (2003) this paper investigates the relationship between a large minerals group, Alpha Corp. and its remote service provider, RDC. Alpha has three different strategies for maintaining competence within the organization while engaging in the outsourcing relationship. The first is exploiting the full potential of its partnership with RDC, the second is heavy investment in information technology, and the third is structured and systematic maintenance. The findings of the study show that the relationship between Alpha and RDC can be characterized as an alliance type relationship and that the only way for Alpha to preserve competence is to maintain an inspired and engaged workforce and fully embrace the partnership in order to create a win-win situation. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. 281-293 p.
Keyword [en]
partnership outsourcing, knowledge, competence, information technology
National Category
Information Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-23186OAI: diva2:221006
IFIP 8.2/9.5 Conference, Portland, OR, USA, 28-31 July 2007.
Available from: 2009-06-03 Created: 2009-06-03 Last updated: 2011-05-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Disentangling sociomateriality: an exploration of remote monitoring systems in interorganizational networks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Disentangling sociomateriality: an exploration of remote monitoring systems in interorganizational networks
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Att dekonstruera sociomaterialitet : En undersökning av fjärrdiagnostiksystem i interorganisatoriska nätverk
Abstract [en]

Firmly placed in an industrial setting, this research explored the introduction of remote monitoring technology into three different organizational contexts. By following these organizations over time, starting with their intention to invest in remote monitoring systems (RMS), there was a unique opportunity to witness their processes and to gain an insight into the intricacies of information technology (IT) and organizational transformation. The main question that this research sought to answer was thus: How is IT implicated in the remote monitoring of industrial equipment?

Previous information systems research has been accused of not paying enough attention to the material, that is, of not being specific about technology. This research adopted a sociomaterial perspective, thus recognizing the constitutive entanglement of the material and the social, and thereby acknowledging their mutual dependency. However, in order to provide specific insights about the material, an analytical disentanglement was performed, by extending the concept of agency from a focus on “the what” to include “the how”. Change was thus studied by not only asking what the nature of change is and who or what causes change to occur, but by also tracing how change is enacted, thus capturing both material and social agency as well as tracing their entanglement.

This research employed a broad approach, designed to provide a profound and extensive account of the studied phenomenon. Consequently, the thesis explored value creation, sourcing routines, partnership formation and innovative practices all related to remote diagnostics design and use. In addition, the research was qualitative and used interpretive case studies as the main methodology.

A composite finding of this research is that an RMS, with its ability to collect, transmit, store, and analyze specific contextual information across time and space, provides opportunities for boundary-spanning activities manifested as the formation of interorganizational networks. Furthermore, by tracing the information capabilities of the IT, and by being specific about the material, it has been possible to explore how RMSs have the potential to influence both organizational form and content. Through the examination of RMSs within interorganizational networks and as a part of value creation practices, this research has also shown how the organizational form and content have the potential to influence RMSs; their design, use, and material affordances. This research also placed focus on the importance of trust and has shown that trust in technology is established through trust in people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för informatik, Umeå Universitet, 2011. 113 p.
Research reports in informatics, ISSN 1401-4572 ; RR-11.02
Remote monitoring systems, interorganizational networks, value creation, trust, sociomateriality
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Research subject
Computer Science
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43488 (URN)978-91-7459-221-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-06-01, MA 121, MIT-huset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2011-05-09 Created: 2011-05-02 Last updated: 2011-05-04Bibliographically approved

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