Software & organisation

Lisa Conrad (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
Paula Bialski (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
Armin Beverungen (University of Siegen)
Confluence, collaboration and intersection
Bowland Hall Main Room
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel explores the intricate relationship between software and organisation. Making use of the different meanings of the term "organization" (formal, emergent, social) it invites research on a variety of phenomena joined by a focus on the entanglements of software and organization.

Long abstract:

This panel explores the intricate relationship between software and organization. The term "organization" can take on a multitude of meanings - ranging from formal to informal to emergent to social organization. This panel thus brings together research on a range of phenomena, nonetheless joined by their focus on the entanglements between software and organization in its varied forms. Starting with formal organisation, we aim at interrogating the way enterprise software (i.e. database management systems, ERP systems, intranets) have become embedded in established corporations and bureaucracies over the past 50 years. Here, we are also interested in the way enterprise software relates to existing, paper-based practices of coordination and administration (backward compatibility) and how it has changed them according to the demands of software. Secondly, most software is itself a product of formal organisation. A lot of attention has been paid to emerging practices of work, often labelled as 'agile' or 'scrum'. Instead of just celebrating their innovativeness, we ask how these practices are related to, and constituted by, the material properties of software. Thirdly, there are new organisational formations emerging from software by allowing collaboration over larger distances or by collecting and aggregating data in novel ways. A very visible manifestation of this logic of "organized networks" (Rossiter) are platforms. Amazon, Google, Uber or AirBnB are prominent examples. How do such platforms change social organization with their software becoming increasingly integrated into everyday life?