The research papers described below can be downloading directly to your hard disk. You will need a standard reader for Portable Document Format (PDF) which is available free for Macs, PCs, and Unix Systems.

Electronic Communities: Global Village or Cyberbalkans?

Alstyne, M. V. & Brynjolfsson, E.

KEYWORDS: Information Economy, Computerization of Society, Organizational Structure, Information Flows, Globalization

(working paper, current version 96/09/20)

Information technology can help link geographically separated people and facilitate search for interesting or compatible resources. Although these attributes have the potential to bridge gaps, they also have the potential to fragment communities by leading people to spend more time on special interests while screening out less preferred contact. This paper introduces precise measures of "balkanization" then develops a model of individual knowledge profiles and community affiliation to examine how improved access, search, and screening might fragment interaction. As IT capabilities continue to improve, policy choices we make could put us on more or less attractive paths.

Download Balkanization-In-Cyberspace -- 120 K

The State of Network Organization: A Survey in Three Frameworks

Alstyne, M. V.

KEYWORDS: Virtual Corporation, Value-Adding Partnership, Adhocracy, Review and Synthesis

(Journal of Organizational Computing, forthcoming)

This article has two primary goals: to review the literature on network organizations and to interpret explanations for its behaviors in terms of established analytical principles. Tools from computer science, economics, and sociology give three markedly different interpretations of its core attributes but they also settle on a handful of common themes. The proposed benefits are a clarification of what it means for an organization to be network structured, a few insights into its origins, and a suggestion of where the boundaries to some of its different forms might lie.

Download Network Survey -- 310 K

Higher Education's Information Challenge

Alstyne, M. V.

KEYWORDS: Higher Education, Information Explosion, Organizational Structure, Specialization, Public Goods, Information Sharing

(Executive Strategies 2(4), 1997)

This article examines university pressures due to expanding information environments and changing information technology. By looking at possible causes for the information explosion and at current incentives, it tries to draw conclusions about increasing competition between colleges, emerging winner-take-all markets, and growing trends toward hoarding private information rather than sharing it as a public good. The essay then proposes a structural modification involving collaborative specialization that might help universities cope with information rich environments.

Download Higher Ed. Challenge -- 70 K

The Matrix of Change: A Tool for Business Process Reengineering

Brynjolfsson, E. Renshaw, Amy A. & Alstyne, M. V.

KEYWORDS: BPR, Change Management, Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

(Sloan Management Review, Winter 1997)

Business process reengineering efforts suffer from low success rates, due in part to a lack of tools for managing the change process. The Matrix of Change can help managers identify critical interactions among processes. In particular, this tool helps managers deal with issues such as how quickly change should proceed, the order in which changes should take place, whether to start at a new site, and whether the proposed systems are stable and coherent. When applied at a medical products manufacturer, the Matrix of Change provided unique and useful guidelines for change management.

Download Matrix-of-Change -- 145 K

Why Not One Big Database? Principles for Data Ownership

Alstyne, M. V., Brynjolfsson, E. & Madnick, S.

KEYWORDS: Information Ownership, Centralization, Decentralization, Distributed Database Systems, Outsourcing, Incentives

(Decision Support Systems, 15(4) Dec. 1995)

Results of this research concern incentive principles which drive information sharing and affect database value. Many real world centralization and standardization efforts have failed, typically because departments lacked incentives or needed greater local autonomy. While intangible factors such as "ownership" have been described as the key to providing incentives, these soft issues have largely eluded formal characterization. Using an incomplete contracts approach from economics, we model the costs and benefits of restructuring organizational control, including critical intangible factors, by explicitly considering the role of data "ownership." There are two principal contributions from the approach taken here. First, it defines mathematically precise terms for analyzing the incentive costs and benefits of changing control. Second, this theoretical framework leads to the development of a concrete model and seven normative principles for improved database management. These principles may be instrumental to designers in a variety of applications such as the decision to decentralize or to outsource information technology and they can be useful in determining the value of standards and translators. Applications of the proposed theory are also illustrated through case histories.

Download Ownership Principles -- 280 K