Management Seminars: Zlatko Bodrozic (Leeds University Business School)

24 September 2019, 12.00 PM - 24 September 2019, 1.30 PM

Zlatko Bodrozic (Leeds University Business School)

1.01 Howard House

Title: Quo Vadis Digital Transformation? A Historical-evolutionary Perspective. 


Scientific Management, Human Relations, and Strategy-and-Structure are well-known management models in the history of business, but we still understand little about why a given model succeeds in competition with other models. This lack of understanding is troublesome. Practitioners would benefit if they could assess more reliably the potential value of the various competing models they read about. Scholars would benefit if a deeper historical-evolutionary understanding of present phenomena—in particular of digital transformation—could be developed. Our analysis of the historical record led us to conclude that management models succeed when they respond effectively to the organizational challenges and opportunities created by successive waves of technological revolution. Digital transformation represents a new challenging phase—the deployment phase—in the wider arc of the computers and digital-technologies revolution.

Paul Adler and I propose a framework that theorises the evolution of management models as the interplay of three loosely-coupled systems: technology, organization and political-economic system. We see several successive waves of technological revolution, each of which prompted a corresponding wave of change in the dominant organizational paradigm and the dominant political-economic system. Neo-Schumpeterians have identified several major revolutions. The four most recent are steam power and railways, steel and electric power, automobile and oil, and computers and digital-technologies. Nested within these waves, we see two successive cycles – a primary cycle which generated a new management model that obsoleted the prior organizational paradigm, and a secondary cycle which generated another model that consolidated the new paradigm by mitigating the dysfunctions of the primary cycle’s model. Based on this framework, the current state of digital transformation is discussed in the seminar.


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