Sociomateriality in the age of emerging information technologies : how big data analytics, blockchain and artificial intelligence affect organisations

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Emerging information technologies (EIT), such as big data analytics, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), challenge organisation design and strategic management, and bring the role of data in organising to the fore. Big data analytics empower consumers and employees, resulting in open strategy and a better understanding of the changing environment. Blockchain enables peer-to-peer collaboration and trustless interactions. And, AI facilitates new and different levels of involvement among human and artificial actors. From these interactions and responses, new modes of organising are emerging, where technology facilitates collaboration between stakeholders and where human-to-human interactions are increasingly replaced with human-to-machine and even machine-to-machine interactions. In this doctoral research, I use the theory of sociomateriality to untangle the social and material when dealing with EIT within organisations. I endeavour to explore these theoretical issues and present a new understanding of the relationships between the social, material and artificial. Addressing this context, my research consists of three studies. Each study is arranged as a standalone paper. In the first study, I investigate how big data analytics affect can be used to better understand the changing organisational environment. The second study looks at how blockchain can result in new forms of organisational design and how it changes decision-making. In the third study, I seek to answer how organisations can ensure that artificial intelligence performs as planned. The results are discussed and made tangible by exploring how the social, material and artificial are changing collaboration among those actors involved in organisations. I adopt three methodologies. The first study is a meta-synthesis of 101 peer-reviewed papers. The second study is conceptual and in the third study, I use qualitative research methodologies to interview managers of organisations who developed conversational AI. The significance of this research is twofold. First, my academic contribution lies in understanding how big data analytics affect strategic management theory in general, and dynamic capabilities literature in particular; how blockchain requires us to rethink organisation design theory, and how agency theory can help when dealing with artificial actors. Also, I argue for the addition of the artificial as an independent actant in organisation design theories. Second, my findings inform organisational practice in terms of how to design organisations using EIT in an increasingly data-driven world. The key thesis underlying this research is that emerging information technologies change how we organise activities within organisations.
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