The transformative capacity of new technologies: A theory of sociotechnical change - Ulrich Dolata
|7 April 2014
|13:00 - 14:00
|What is it:
|Alliance Manchester Business School
|Venue opening hours:
|Coffee form 12.30pm
|Who is it for:
|University staff, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public
How do sociotechnical fields such as business sectors, its institutions and actors, deal with radically new technological opportunities? How do they perceive, engage, and cope with emerging pressures for change caused by new technologies which fail to fit to the established social and institutional framework and seriously challenge a field’s existing sociotechnical match?
The peculiarities of new technologies exert distinct pressures of change onto sectors, their structures, institutions, and actors. However, their transformative capacity leads neither directly nor deterministically to clear-cut organizational, structural, and institutional changes. The ways in which the pressure to adjust and to change is handled and reflected in new organizational, structural, and institutional arrangements concern genuine actor-based processes of search, selection, and readjustment, processes which are framed by the socioeconomic structures and institutions that exist in each case. The ways a sector perceives, adopts and copes with new technological opportunities I refer to as adaptability. In my talk I distinguish between three variants of adaptability
1. Inadaptability. Sectors and their established actors can be characterized by persistence and structural conservatism that hinder the ability to anticipate and adopt new technological challenges and impede a timely and orderly process of transformation. From the perspective of the sector’s core, uncontrolled and crisis-ridden change then occurs, frequently emerging either at the sector's periphery or from beyond, and driven forward primarily by actors who are new or from outside the sector.
2. Proactive adaptability. In contrast to the above inadaptable sectors are those sectors characterized by a structural, institutional, and organizational openness and flexibility which encourages the early perception and adoption of new technological opportunities. The core structures, institutions, and organizations quickly perceive and become receptive to new technological opportunities. The established actors, structures, and institutions are then the main drivers of a proactive and more controlled process of restructuring.
3. Power-based adaptability. Existing power figurations can enable sectors and their established actors to block, contain or only partially adopt, for extended periods, the opportunities provided by radically new technologies. This results in a process of only moderate restructuring that does not seriously challenge or disrupt the sector's existing sociotechnical match, institutional basis, or actor figurations.
Role: Managing Director, Institute for Social Sciences
Organisation: University of Stuttgart, Germany
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