Coordination in Distributed Organizations

Srikanth, Kannan (2007) Coordination in Distributed Organizations. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School. OPEN ACCESS


Coordination and cooperation are equally necessary for organizations to achieve collective action. However, many scholars have suggested that in its development over the decades, organization theory suffers from 'coordination neglect' and has almost exclusively concentrated on problems of cooperation. My research is aimed at generating a better understanding of coordination in both intra and inter-organization settings, particularly in the context of "distributed organizations" - organizations whose components are separated in space and time, yet whose activities must be coordinated to achieve organizational goals. My goal in this research is to identify organizational mechanisms that enable coordination. Traditional research has greatly emphasized the importance of communication to achieve coordination. Frequent face-to-face communication is seen as the de facto means of coordination when it is not Possible ex-ante to plan and specify all the necessary interactions. However, both these mechanisms fall short when considering the burgeoning interest in the offshoring of activities. Business Process Offshoring (BPO) typically involves situations where it is necessary to coordinate activities across geographic distance, whose interactions cannot be fully specified ex-ante and where communication constraints are only partially resolved through information and communication technology. In this dissertation I attempt to understand how coordination is achieved in BPO activities. Based on qualitative evidence from 60 projects in offshore software services delivery, I find that coordination is mainly achieved by generating common ground across locations. In a follow-up empirical study involving survey data collection from offshored activities, I find that coordination of system dependent activities relies more on generating common ground than it does on creating modular solutions and on facilitating ongoing communication across locations. These findings suggest that we need to add common ground as an additional generic coordination mechanism that is available to firms apart from plan and feedback. These results suggest that a knowledgebased theory of coordination might yield superior understanding of organizations than the current information processing approach.

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Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2022 10:29
Date of first compliant deposit: 25 Feb 2022
Subjects: Outsourcing
Virtual teams
Knowledge management systems
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 23:37

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