Pressures or Weapons?: Applying Information Technologies to Innovate Organizational Structures in the Information Age

Pressures or Weapons?: Applying Information Technologies to Innovate Organizational Structures in the Information Age

Liang-Hung Lin (National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-192-4.ch010
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Innovating organizational structures by using information technologies (IT), this study introduced new IT-enabled structures, and presented how managers scan firms capabilities and design suitable structures in the information age. Another purpose of this chapter is to verify the role of IT-enabled structures in the multilevel study of innovation management. Findings based on hierarchical regression analyses revealed that IT-enabled structures are critical in the management of innovation. Furthermore, IT-enabled structures can explain the difference of both organizational innovation and individual creativity in organizations. It also can moderate the relationship between organizational innovation and individual creativity.
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It-Design Variables And It-Enabled Organizational Structures

Structure, as the blueprint for activities, includes the table of organization covering departments, positions, and programs. Three affective contextual variables exist, including environment, technology, and size that allow organizations to generate different types of structures (Woodward, 1970; Chandler, 1962; Child, 1972). From this perspective, information technologies are not merely changes of organizational environment, but also are an important technology for a firm, particularly for information and e-business related industries. Managers can use information technologies to develop IT-enabled design variables that can help in designing suitable structures to manage strategy/environment fit. Lucas and Baroudi (1994) and Boudreau et al. (1998) reported useful IT-enabled design variables for designing new structures to facilitate corporate coordination and inter-organizational communication among organizations. These variables include:

  • 1.

    virtual components, which can create virtual departments via electronic data exchange and inter-organizational delivery system (For example, if some firms wish their parts suppliers to replace the inventory, they may ask the suppliers to offer parts on demand OR at the last minute by using electronic mail and express delivery);

  • 2.

    electronic linking, by using electronic mail and telecommunication technologies;

  • 3.

    technological leveling, which can refine the organizational hierarchy by using electronic communication tools;

  • 4.

    mass customization technology;

  • 5.

    internet, intranet, and extranet; and

  • 6.

    technological matrixing, which forms matrix structures by electronic mail, fax, and telecommunication technologies.

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