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The Necessary Nature of Future Firms
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The Necessary Nature of Future Firms
Attributes of Survivors in a Changing World

  • George P. Huber - The University of Texas at Austin, USA, School of Geography, University Oxford Centre for the Environment


February 2004 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Firms - like all living systems - must be congruent with, aligned with, compatible with their environments, or they will not survive. Among the features examined in depth are practices and structural arrangements that enable firms to more rapidly and effectively: sense and interpret threats and opportunities; get decisions made; acquire and manage knowledge; innovate; and change - while simultaneously dealing with the needs for efficiency, flexibility, and employee commitment.
 
Chapter 1 Dangerous Deficiencies
WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHAT IS NOT?  
THE ROLE OF TOP MANAGEMENT  
ABOUT THIS BOOK  
 
Chapter 2 The Future Environments of Business Organizations
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY  
Scientific Knowledge  
Improved Technologies  
Mental Blocks to Imagining a Different World on the Same Planet  
Interim Summary and Transition  
THE COMPLEXITY OF FUTURE ENVIRONMENTS  
Environmental Variety  
Environmental Density and Interdependence  
Interim Summary and Transition  
ENVIRONMENTAL DYNAMISM AND COMPETITIVENESS  
Velocity, Turbulence, and Instability  
Environmental Competitiveness  
 
Chapter 3 Sensing and Interpreting the Environment
FACIT AB  
IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SENSING AND INTERPRETATION  
Consequences and Importance of Interpretation  
ENVIRONMENTAL SENSING IN FUTURE FIRMS  
Intelligence Gathering  
Intelligence Gathering As a Staff Function? As an Outsourced Function?  
Intelligence Gathering As Specialized Accountability  
Intelligence Gathering As Eclectic Responsibility  
Supporting Sensors  
Probing the Environment  
Sensing Early Responses to the Firm's Actions and Products  
Top Managers As Environmental Sensors  
INTERPRETING WHAT IS SENSED  
Declines in Quality and Timeliness of Organizational Interpretations  
Enhancing Interpretation in Future Firms  
Faulty Interpretations  
 
Chapter 4 Organizational Decision Making
DECISIONS AND DECISION MAKING RESOURCE IN FUTURE FIRMS  
Increasing Environmental Dynamism and Its Consequences  
Increasing Environmental Complexity and Its Consequences  
Increasing Competitiveness and Its Consequences  
Decision Maker Capabilities: Past, Present, Future  
DECISION MAKING PRACTICES IN FUTURE FIRMS  
Ensuring Scope  
Ensuring Speed  
Effects of Forthcoming Information Technologies on Decision Speed and Scope  
IT Investments Focused on Analysis  
IT Investments Focused on Communication  
TEMPTING PRACTICES  
Intuitive Decision Making  
Satisfying and Analogizing  
Firms' Responses to Personal Propensities to Use Short-cut Methods  
 
Chapter 5 Knowledge Acquisition: Organizational Learning
LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE, AND INNOVATION  
ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING: A PRACTICE WHOSE TIME HAS COME  
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE  
Highly Effective Learning Experiences: Designed Experiments  
Highly Effective Learning Experiences: Natural Experiments  
Highly Effective Learning Experiences: Learning from Action Probes and Operations  
Highly Effective Learning Experiences: Learning by Observing Samples of One or Fewer  
LEARNING FROM OTHERS - VICARIOUS LEARNING  
Absorptive Capacity  
Importing Knowledge in the Form of Expertise  
Enhancing Organizational Learning by Enhancing Individual Learning  
INTRODUCING LEARNING PRACTICES  
 
Chapter 6 Leveraging Learning through Knowledge Management
SEMATECH  
THE FOUR REPOSITORIES OF ORGANIZATIONAL KNOWLEDGE  
THE NEED TO MANAGE KNOWLEDGE  
DIRECT, INFORMAL KNOWLEDGE SHARING  
An Example of How Motivation Can Negatively Affect Direct, Informal Knowledge Sharing  
Organizational Culture: An Achievable Solution to the Problem of Motivation?  
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS  
Motivational Issues in Knowledge Management Systems  
Managing Motivation in Knowledge Management Systems  
Situational Influences Favoring the Use of Extrinsic Motivators  
Long-lived traditions and cultures  
Increased use of teams, and of incentives for team performance  
Lower levels of organizational and group identification  
Person-to-Person Knowledge Sharing from a Distance  
PLANNED KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER ACROSS TEAMS  
Capturing and Transferring Team Learning  
Obstacles to Intra-Organizational Knowledge Transfer, and Solutions  
 
Chapter 7 Innovation: The Integration and Exploitation of Knowledge
OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALIZATION  
WITHIN-FIRM APPROACHES TO INTEGRATING KNOWLEDGE: A BRIEF RECOUNTING OF CURRENT STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES  
Interim Summary and Transition  
KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION STRUCTURES IN FUTURE FIRMS  
CHANGES IN INTRA-FIRM STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES  
Dividing and Coordinating the Work  
Coordination Processes  
INTER-FIRM STRUCTURES  
Knowledge Transfer Between Levels and Across Firms: A Brief Update on Current Practice  
CHANGES IN EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES  
Changes in Staffing Practices  
Finding Expertise  
CHANGES IN EXPERTS' EMPLOYMENT STRATEGIES  
Factors Curtailing the Growth in Independent Contracting  
 
Chapter 8 Dealing with the Simultaneous Needs for Change, Productivity, Flexibility and Employee Commitment
MORE-THAN-OCCASIONAL CONFLICTS  
Change-Productivity Conflict  
Change-Commitment Conflict  
Change-Flexibility Conflict  
Productivity-Commitment Conflict  
Flexibility-Productivity Conflict and Flexibility-Commitment Conflict  
DOWNSIZING  
Downsizing in the Future  
Forces Inhibiting Downsizing  
Loss of Organizational Knowledge  
Lower Productivity of Retained Employees  
Decreased Effectiveness of Inter-firm Relations  
Increases in Unwanted Turnover  
USE OF TEMPORARY AND CONTRACT WORKERS  
Forces Inhibiting Use of Temporary Workers  
CHANGE AND CULTURE  
Environmental Effects on Future Firms' Cultures  
Environmental Effects on Management's Culture-managing Actions and Success  
Unintended Adverse Effects on the Firm's Culture  
How Cultures Affect the Ability of the Firm to Change  
CULTURE AND COMPENSATION  
Organizational Culture  
Changes in the Conditions Favoring Direct Supervision  
Changes in Conditions Favoring Pay for Performance  
Changes in Conditions Favoring Pay for Performance for Teams  
Changes in Conditions Favoring Use of Organizational Culture  
 
Epilogue

"While many books deal with
decision making and many more deal with environmental complexity, this is one
of the first to lucidly tie them together and provide executives with the
specific tools and mind-set necessary to bring about significant organizational
change. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a key driver of the integration
of business and science, and this book will be a must-read for many of the students
in our masters and executive education programs."

Mason A. Carpenter
University of Wisconsin, winner of six teaching awards in six years, including Most Popular Professor in MBA Business Week Poll

"The
book offers yet another outstanding contribution by an author known for
scholarship and insightful observations about the state of organizations and
their management. The topic is timely and the book offers many useful ideas
that will find their way into practice. I highly recommend it."

Paul C. Nutt
Ohio State University and author of Why Decisions Fail

"This
book is a must read for managers concerned with guiding their organizations
into the information age. Management futurologists and academic writers have
speculated on the features and characteristics of new organizational forms. The Necessary Nature of Future Firms by
George Huber represents the first rigorous in-depth effort at anticipating the
shape of new organizations by combining, recombining, and interpreting a vast
management research literature and presenting it to managerial audiences. The
book is very accessible to a broad managerial audience but especially to
forward looking thoughtful managers concerned with the future of their
organizations."

Arie Y. Lewin
Duke University, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Business Studies, and former Editor-in-Chief of Organization Science

“In The
Necessary Nature of Future Firms, George Huber does what Huber does
best--paint a compelling vision of the design of (near) future organizations as
well as the implications of this design. What differentiates Huber’s
‘visioning’ efforts from most others is that they are derived not from
speculation but rather from the collective thinking of a generation of
organizational scientists as interpreted through Huber’s own research and
consulting experiences. This vision of how future firms will be designed
(and, hence, how they will behave) emerges in fact from well-founded
conceptualizations and validated observations.”

Robert Zmud
University of Oklahoma, Senior Editor of MIS Quarterly and of Information Systems Research, and former Editor-in-Chief of MIS Quarterly

“George Huber has written a
wonderfully comprehensive and integrative book on organizational change,
learning, and adaptation. Huber synthesizes the research-based work on change
in a way that will be helpful to scholars, graduate students, as well as
managers interested in organizational learning and change. The book is well
written and provocative. It is a state of the art literature review with an
experienced, practical point of view. This book belongs on both the scholar's
desk as well as in the practitioner's office.”

 

Michael L. Tushman
Harvard Business School, co-author of Navigating Change: How CEOs, Top Teams, and Boards Steer Transformation and also Winning Through Innovation

"Professor
Huber has produced a valuable and very well researched guide for firms making
the necessary transition to the knowledge economy. His sage advice and
experiences will greatly help any organization navigate these tricky and
dangerous waters."

Dr. Lawrence Prusak
Former Executive Director, Institute for Knowledge Management, former Managing Principal with IBM Global Services, and former Principal in Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Innovation

"George
Huber has achieved an amazing feat in this book. He has eloquently described
what it will take for companies to prosper in the future by drawing upon what
we know today--what we really know, based on rigorous research--about speed
flexibility, learning, and innovation. Anyone interested in preparing firms for
tomorrow will benefit from this important book."

Don Hambrick
Pennsylvania State University, former President of the Academy of Management, and co-author of Navigating Change: How CEOs, Top Teams, and Boards Steer Transformation

"Provocative, insightful, and an extraordinary useful look at
managing complex organizations in rapidly changing environments.
This book must be read by managers
and scholars trying to comprehend the challenge of managing in uncertain times
under compressed time constraints."

Ken G. Smith
University of Maryland and former Editor, Academy of Management Review

“In this rich and comprehensive book, George Huber calls on
managers to take stock of their companies through a careful and systematic
analysis of environmental and other pressures that will shape the nature of
business into the future. The depth of analysis and detailed advice for
managers is impressive. The book provides leading-edge perspectives on
knowledge management, change, culture, strategy, and many aspects of decision
making and human resource management. This is a timely and comprehensive book that
includes everything the informed manager needs to know to examine his or her
business and move it successfully into the future. This is a must read for the
serious, thoughtful executive.”

Gerardine DeSanctis
Duke University and co-author of Shaping Organizational Form: Communication, Connection, and Community

“The Necessary Nature of Future Firms is
cleverly written, grounded in history, integrates an unusually extensive survey
of organizational research, and is filled with evocative examples and practical
guidelines which should make it great reading for practitioner and theorist
alike. Huber has accomplished a rare feat--he has created a book that is both
practically relevant for executives and suggests many viable avenues for
organizational scholarship.”

Kathleen M. Sutcliffe
University of Michigan Business School and co-author of Managing the Unexpected

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface


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