Control-Generativity Paradox – Visiting student Michael Blaschke is working with me for the next year.

For the next year Michael Blaschke, is visiting me at the LSE. He is a final year PhD student from University of St Gallen (HSG) and the SAP Innovation Center St.Gallen. His research mainly focuses on digital platforms and value co-creation.

The following  paper-summary written by Michael gives an idea of his research. 

Abstract

The platform economy represents the most profound global macroeconomic change since the industrial revolution. Digital platforms afford organizations to synergistically co-create value in digital third-party ecosystems. Considering these ecosystems’ specificities, digital platforms require a delicate balance of two conflicting ends: control and generativity. While pure control makes adaptation difficult, pure generativity suffers the costs of experimentation without gaining associated benefits. In turn, embracing the complementary benefits of simultaneous control and generativity is challenging given its inherent contradictions. Beyond summarizing the control-generativity paradox of digital platforms, this blog post makes four alternative modes of balancing control and generativity available to platform managers. The publication can be found here.

The Control-Generativity Paradox

Key Takeaways

What? Digital platforms—digital core technologies upon which third parties add peripheral derivatives—afford organizations to co-create value in networked business ecosystems.

So What? While platform owners aim for stabilization to exploit their third-party ecosystem (control), third parties aim for autonomy to explore unanticipated avenues of innovation (generativity).

Now What? Platform owners draw upon at least four modes of balancing control and generativity in digital platforms—contextual, structural, temporal, and domainal balance.

Managerial and scholarly interest in digital platforms is mounting. Some of the most valued companies—including Alibaba, Amazon, and Alphabet—embrace the platform logic with surprisingly short histories. At the same time, many long-lived companies are considering how they can adopt the platform logic to improve performance. Prominent digital platform exemplars are social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn), mobile operating system platforms (e.g., Android and iOS), payment platforms (e.g., PayPal and Apple Pay), and peer-to-peer platforms (e.g., Uber and Airbnb).

Digital platforms are characterized by synergistic value co-creation in digital third-party ecosystems. These ecosystem make digital platforms subject to a delicate tension between (1) maintaining control and, at the same time, (2) stimulating—not directly managing—generativity through dynamically recombining third-party resources (Blaschke and Brosius 2018). While control captures mechanisms that encourage desirable outputs or behaviors by third parties (Tiwana et al. 2010), generativity describes a technology’s overall capacity to produce unprompted change driven by large, varied and uncoordinated audiences (Zittrain 2006).

Notably, control and generativity are not incompatible or mutually exclusive goals. Successful digital platforms meet both ends as pure control makes adaptation difficult and pure generativity suffers the costs of experimentation without gaining associated benefits. As balancing has in fact become the innate mindset of digital platform management, we ask: How do digital platforms balance simultaneous control and generativity?

Balancing Control and Generativity

Based on our research, we extracted a set of four modes of balancing control and generativity in digital platforms, namely contextual, organizational, temporal, and domanial balance. This set of modes is drawn based on the premise that digital platforms seek both (1) for stabilization to exploit the given ecosystem of third-party actors (through control) and (2) for dynamism to explore new avenues of resource integration in adapting to third-party actors’ external stimuli (through generativity). Next, we summarize these modes of balancing control and generativity in digital platforms.

 

 

Contextual balance denotes a situation-dependent combination of concurrent control and generativity. It is a form of contextual buffering, whereby the platform owner maintains control and generativity activities (1) situation-dependent for each platform partner individually and (2) simultaneously at any given organizational level. For instance, Microsoft (Windows) employs contextually configures control and generativity within the contexts of either exchanging, adding, or synergistically integrating third-party resources.

Structural balance refers to different types of partners that are subject to either control or generativity. It is a form of spatial buffering, whereby the platform owner maintains control and generativity (1) simultaneously on the platform ecosystem level, but (2) are situated within distinct organizational units for distinct partner types (e.g., new and existing partners), respectively. For instance, SAP (SAP Cloud Platform) runs one unit to negotiate and onboard new partners (control), while a different unit explores novel software with already existing partners (generativity).

Temporal balance denotes sequential shifts over time from control to generativity, and vice versa. It is a form of temporal buffering, whereby control and generativity (1) coexist for the same given platform partner but (2) at different points in time, so that the platform owner switches sequentially between control and generativity for each platform partner. To illustrate, Alibaba Group (Alibaba.com) predominantly maintained generativity to become a two-sided platform (1994-2004), relied on control to mitigate the threat of platform envelopment (2005-2006), and fostered generativity again to pursue a digital ecosystem strategy (2007-present).

Domainal balance denotes control in one domain with simultaneous generativity in another domain. It is a form of domanial buffering, whereby any given platform partner is subject to both control and generativity (1) organizational domains while (2) the platform owner balances these domain-dependent control and generativity activities globally across domains. For instance, Microsoft (LinkedIn) differentiates a platform’s core, interfaces, and complements as key architectural domains, each of which require different control-generativity configurations.

Recommendations

  1. Thriving platforms simultaneously seek (1) for stabilization to exploit the given digital ecosystem (through control) and (2) for dynamism to explore innovation in adapting to third parties’ external stimuli (through generativity).
  2. Thriving platforms balance control and generativity through a platform-specific adoption and adaption of the four proposed balancing modes.
  3. Effective platform mangers identify novel modes and mechanisms to achieve the targeted control-generativity balance.

About the paper

References

Blaschke, M., and Brosius, M. 2018. “Digital Platforms: Balancing Control and Generativity,” in: 39th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS2018). San Francisco, US.

Tiwana, A., Konsynski, B., and Bush, A. A. 2010. “Platform Evolution: Coevolution of Platform Architecture, Governance, and Environmental Dynamics,” Information Systems Research (21:4), pp. 675-687.

Zittrain, J. L. 2006. “The Generative Internet,” Harvard Law Review (119:7), pp. 1974-2040.

 

Fully funded PhD studentships in Interfaces / Boundary Resources / Digital Ecosystems / Cloud Computing.

I am part of my large research grant with UCL, QMUL and Imperial (https://binaryblurring.com/2017/12/04/win-of-6-million-to-research-digital-interfacing/  )  titled “Interfaces Reasoning for Interacting Systems.

As part of this we have four fully funded PhD studentships available –  http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/prospective_students/phd_programme/funded_scholarships/

While the advertisement focuses on computer science issues, the final bullet point “Tools for modelling and reasoning about organizational architecture” directly relates to Information Systems and Digital Innovation areas. Essentially if you would like to undertake a funded PhD focused on the managerial, social and organisational impact of Digital Interfacing (e.g. Digital ecosystems, Cloud Computing, Platforms, Boundary Resources, APIs,) please apply! While the advert insists on computer science or mathematics degrees – for those seeking to work with me a strong Information Systems Masters, or First-Class Degree in a related discipline would be sufficient.

[Note the PhD may need to be based at UCL while supervised by myself with Prof. David Pym as joint supervisor. The starting stipend will be approximately £17,000, with an approximate annual uplift of 3%. ].

It is possible that the studentship would be supported by AWS (Amazon) and involve working with AWS (Amazon), BT or Facebook among others .

Please apply ASAP as we are looking to recruit very very soon! Applications need only be a couple of pages long. 

Best wishes,

Will.

 

Five days of trials, tech and teamwork: welcome to Sprint Week

Innovation can transform the world. So how can it be encouraged and nurtured? Sofia Klapp, studying my course in “Innovating Organizational Information Technology” for her MSc Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation (MISDI), reveals how our Sprint Week concept challenged her and her fellow classmates to generate, develop and pitch genuinely groundbreaking ideas. 

It was Monday morning, and 18 multidisciplinary teams were assembled at their desks. It was the beginning of the Sprint Week. We all had our materials ready (post-its, tape, markers, cardboards, and one big whiteboard) and plenty of healthy snacks to keep our energy levels high. Visa, one of the world’s leading payment brands, were explaining their global innovation challenges. From this moment until Friday afternoon, we would have to work in an “agile manner” to create an  innovative digital solution to win this innovation competition.

The Sprint Week: A learning-by-doing process framed as an innovation race

Will Venters and Carsten Sorensen, scholars on the “Innovating Organizational Information Technology” course, came up with a better use for the reading week for the MISDI Programme at LSE. Instead of just teaching about digital innovation and agile theory, why not use this week of no classes to immerse the students in a hands-on learning experience? They called it “The Sprint Week”, and this is the second year they´ve run this 5-day bootcamp.

As if making Sprint Week 50 % of our course assessment wasn’t enough, to add some extra adrenaline the teachers framed it as an innovation competition. Two key partners (Visa and Roland Berger) were invited to make things even more exiting. Both would be judges and choose the best projects for the grand final on Friday. Visa shared its strategic digital challenges to inspire our innovation ideas. Trending topics like mobility, digital identity, and a cashless society, served as fuel to ignite our imaginations. At the same time, Roland Berger, a strategic consulting firm and design sprint expert, was there to support our hands-on learning process.

The Sprint Week Methodology: The MISDI approach to developing digital innovations

But how did it all work? Sprint Week addresses digital innovation development by combining the best of two approaches: Design Sprint Methodology (a five-day work process for answering business questions through design, prototyping, and testing digital ideas with customers created by Google Ventures) and Soft Systems Methodology (a socio-technical approach broadly used to understand, design and intervene in information systems and digital innovation). While the first approach encouraged us to work in an agile manner as a multidisciplinary team, the second allowed us to understand the digital challenges from a systemic perspective considering their social and human implications.

The Sprint Week Experience Challenges: It’s not about intellectual capacity, but about the right mind-set and team-work skills.

Initially, these methodologies seemed simple. But as we moved forward we realised that putting them into practice wouldn’t be easy. For me, the biggest challenges we faced weren’t intellectual, but mostly related to how we managed uncertainty and how we interacted and communicated as a team. Whether we felt lost or on track depended on how well we managed our teamwork, triggering a roller coaster of emotions in our team throughout the week.

Managing the uncertainty that every innovation process entails can be very hard. We humans seem to have a control seeking mind-set that also looks for right answers. Yet working in an agile manner is not a linear step-by-step process. The agile mind-set is about learning and discovering the answers as you go, navigating in a disciplined way the messiness of the innovation process. If you are a control freak, you will suffer a lot. A good strategy was to keep trusting the methodology, accepting uncertainty as a normal feeling during the process while being open to be suppressive by the outcomes of applying it.

All the teams were highly diverse in their backgrounds and personalities. My team mates were from Indonesia, China, and the UK, whereas I´m from Chile; and their backgrounds ranged from IT-engineering, linguistic, international business, innovation and psychology. The methodology encouraged us to interact and discuss in an active and collaborative way. But it also meant dealing with disagreements among team members. We all speak English but our cultural differences and accents meant we had to focus extra hard. Getting to know each other before the Sprint Week and negotiating working styles was very important. We also ran open-heart sessions after each day gave feedback about what we liked and what we could improve for the next day.

What did I get out of all of this? From connecting theory and practice to being inspired by my classmates

As a MISDI student with previous work experience in innovation and agile development, I did not expect to learn as much as I did. The Sprint Week has definitely been the highlight of the MISDI programme so far.

Getting the opportunity to work on a real-life case challenge for a global company, with the input from industry experts, helped to link the theory I´d learned on the course with real world challenges.  And the ideas and discussions it generated between team members from different backgrounds, life-experiences and nations were amazing. Honestly, I feel that in one week it made me a better team player!

Moreover, seeing the teams´ project presentations on Friday was inspiring (all of them, not just the finalists). All the initiatives were so diverse and creative.  They greatly exceeded my expectations: from a data monetization platform that allows individuals to gain control of and get value from their digital data, to a futuristic payment chip inserted in consumer’s hand linked to an integrated app. Even some of the social projects surprised me; there was a donations platform that streamlines the funding of NGOs for increased transparency and another that provides digital sovereign identity and financial inclusion to the unbanked population.

This hands-on experience helped us gain a practical understanding of breakthrough methodologies while developing the multidisciplinary team skills needed to craft digital innovations. But most importantly, this week reminded me that at LSE your classmates are one of the main sources of learning and inspiration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sofia Klapp is from Chile and holds a BA in Organisational Psychology, plus diplomas in Business Management and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Her experience in leading customer experience evaluations in technology projects in a global IT consultancy enabled her to understand the strategic complexities that digital transformation brings, encouraging her to pursue her MSc Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation (MISDI) at LSE.

Lecturing for Cambridge Executive Education

It was great to be back in Cambridge last week lecturing with Dr Mark Thompson on Digital Innovation and Transformation @ Judge Business School Executive Education Programmes.

20181115_095722My contribution was a deep dive into the digital infrastructures which are transforming our digital economy. I talked about Cloud Computing as transformational in enabling Data and Algorithms to have agency in changing business environments.

Central to this transformation is Artificial Intelligence (AI) which I argued to be a means of industrialising data-analytics at scale. Through AI and cloud computing, organisations can share data across their organisational boundaries in order to derive new business benefit.

For example an FMCG company might harness AI to automatically integrate data from wholesalers, distributes and retailers with complex production data, external statistics on consumer behaviour, logistics movement or meteorology. Through this integration an AI algorithm may better forecast demand fluctuations and thus reduce costs than a closed data-process.

Achieving this though requires effective, secure and agreed interfacing between companies for large data-sets and complex pooled data processes. This digital interfacing is the focus of my current research efforts: https://interfacereasoning.com/  

(Banner image (CC) from Rept0n1x : Used with thanks).

ISChannel Published- Volume 13.

I’m pleased to promote the newly published ISChannel journal. The journal is wholly produced by MSc and PhD students and accepts articles concerned with socio-technical issues of information systems. I am reproducing the editorial written by Sophie Altrock, this year’s associate editor. 

To get your free copy of the journal click here.

EDITORIAL – From the Associate Editor

Currently in its 13th year of publication, the iSCHANNEL team is proud to contribute yet another series of insightful research of aspiring academics, current students, and those hungry for sharing ideas and findings with the Information Systems community. Out of a wide selection of submissions this year we agreed on a great mixture of quantitative findings and theoretical explorations of topics surrounding challenges and opportunities of our digital age.

With contributions from my fellow Associate Editors, we are happy to present five thought-provoking papers:

Alexandra Gencheva studies friction in the context of Open Banking solutions. Using the case of an Open Banking consent journey, the author explores how users perceive friction and how these perceptions and behaviours are impacted by preferences and expectations about privacy and convenience. The analysis shows that friction is perceived as a more positive encounter by participants that value privacy while it is perceived as a more negative encounter by participants that value convenience.

Pauline A. Chin, Clotilde de Maricourt, Nicolas, A. Feil, Terry L. X. Zhen, and Krittika Ray, a group of undergraduate students, explore the impact of automation in different industries looking at current and future professionals. Using a mixed method approach, the findings reveal that all participants are concerned about the automation of jobs in the near future. Students however were showing a willingness to adapt to those arising challenges by learning how to code in comparison to no willingness on the side of professionals. Findings further indicate that e.g. job security also affects concerns with the automation of jobs.

Juan Felipe Forero offers an anthropological perspective on understanding the nature of digital innovation. Deploying the concept of migration, including departing, arriving and crossing borders, the author outlines how digital innovation is a product of moves, changes and different modes of travelling. Drawing from a range of anthropological concepts and contributions, the author argues that innovation emerges as a far messier and improvised process than previously thought. To an Information Systems audience, this paper presents a fascinating insight into contributions from digital anthropology and adjacent fields.

Kadriann Pikkat provides an interesting analysis of filter bubbles enabled by social media platforms. Through an examination of this phenomenon, where the mechanisms exposing content to a user prioritise ideas that reinforce his or her own beliefs, she raises awareness of the ways users of these platforms may be unwittingly subjected to a narrowing subset of information disguised as personalisation. Kadriann reveals the ways these platforms may simplify and manipulate the complexities of social interaction and raises questions around how this reinforcement may shape users’ identities.

Maria V. Santarelli examines from a political point of view the way users give consent within social networking sites (SNS) using Facebook as a case study. By showing the analogies between a state and Facebook, she argues that consent given on a SNS resembles John Locke’s tacit consent as derived from “take it all or take nothing” Hobson’s choice. Such “tacit online consent” goes beyond the consent given to governments, calling into question the contemporary legislative means in place.

We have assembled a rich set of contributions this year and we want to thank all our authors and reviewers. Taking part in the journey from the first call for papers to the final printed journal has shown us that research is not just about counting online submissions. iSCHANNEL has brought people together, challenged reviewers to change their perspectives but, most of it all, it has offered yet another breadth of topics on all kinds of technological developments that affect us equally, now and tomorrow.

When I came to the LSE a year ago, my background in digital media studies in the field of cultural science provided me with a healthy scepticism about technologies, and the way they affect our daily lives. In the past months, however, I have come to realise the opportunities and the potential of this digital landscape for individuals and businesses if only we aspire this comprehensive view. The papers selected in this volume offer rich insights into the privacy concerns in the open banking sector and perspectives on social media platforms, accompanied by explorations of the automation of jobs and the ever narrowing information flow we are exposed to online. Adding an anthropological perspective to our selection further shows us that these topics of digital innovation should not just be addressed in the field of Information Systems alone, but rather across different areas of research. With this variety of perspectives and the growing body of knowledge that we take part in, I now see that we can continue to evolve and revolutionise our technologies with the potential to bring about more of rewarding disruptions.

In the name of iSCHANNEL, I am happy to have joined the team that has brought about another journal with intriguing findings and captivating thoughts. We now like to invite your reflections and challenge new ideas while reading through our 13th edition.

With many thanks to my fellow Associate Editors and their contributions,

Katharina B. Rohr, Jerome Retzlaff, and Kaitlyn Clark.

Special thanks goes to our Senior Editor Marta Stelmaszak who has invested a considerable amount of time and effort to make this journal possible over the past years and Dr. Will Venters, the Faculty Editor, who has once more supported us with his academic expertise and experience.

Sincerely,

Sophie Altrock

Associate Editor

 

 

#LegoGovernment: Our manifesto for government in the age of digital disruption.

Tonight I’m at the Institute for Government, where I am part of a group launching our collaboratively developed “Manifesto for Better Public Services” together with a more detailed “Green Paper”.

So what’s it all about? Well, in 1941 the founder of the modern welfare state William Beveridge asked: “How would one plan social insurance now if one had a clear field … without being hampered by vested interests of any kind?Today, we ask: “How would one plan a modern, internet-enabled state if one had a clear field … without being hampered by vested interests of any kind?
And, most importantly, how can we transition successfully from our current state to that future state? To get hold of the reports visit:

http://www.digitizinggovernment.org/manifesto
Note: These final documents are the work of Jerry Fishenden, Mark Thompson and Will Venters. However, they draw upon valuable insights, critiques, pushback, feedback and improvements contributed by Andy Beale, Alan Brown, James Duncan, James Findlay, Sally Howes, Renate Samson and Simon Wardley. And some others who prefer to remain anonymous. We would also like to thank Liz Bennett for her skill, and patience, in turning our scribbles and jottings into something much better designed and engaging.

This work also builds on our research activity published in:

“Appraising the impact and role of platform models and Government as a Platform (GaaP) in UK Government public service reform: towards a Platform Assessment Framework (PAF)”

Alan Brown, Jerry Fishenden, M Thompson, Will Venters

Government Information Quarterly 34 (2), 167-182, 2017

I’m recruiting a Research Fellow in Information Systems for 3 years.

Come join me at the LSE in researching the managerial, social, and organisational implications of digital interfaces! 

—–

LSE is committed to building a diverse, equitable and truly inclusive university

Department of Management

Research Fellow in Information Systems (IRIS – EPSRC funded)

Salary from £43,907 – £50,835 pa inclusive of London Allowance

This is a fixed term appointment for 3 years

Better understanding the effective management of software interfacing is vital as companies and individuals harness new digital innovations and integrate them digitally within their processes and practices. Many digital innovations including the Internet of Things, SmartCities, Platforms and Artificial Intelligence, involve a myriad of systems owned and operated by a myriad of different companies which become tightly coupled together through their interfaces (e.g. though APIs and cloud computing). Yet little is known about how the organisations involved in such innovations define such digital interfaces, how they evolve, and in particular what organisational or management commitments are embedded within them or how new forms of organisation or technology emerge through their use.

This research fellow will address such gaps by undertaking research on the organisational, managerial and social implications of digital interfaces as part of a new £6m+ EPSRC funded project: Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems (IRIS). The IRIS project is a collaboration between University College London, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Queen Mary, University of London, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. The project also involves corporate partners including Facebook, Amazon Web Services, BT, HP Labs and Methods Consulting.

The fellow will have research experience in a relevant field such as information systems, science and technology studies, or innovation studies and must hold a completed PhD, or close to obtaining a PhD, in Information Systems or a relevant related field by the post start date. The post will be focused on producing internationally excellent publications and so clear evidence of relevant writing ability and research skills are required. The fellow is expected to actively participate across the project and externally with other researchers and corporate partners.

Candidates should also have:

  • Expertise and research interests in Information Systems and Innovation
  • Proven ability or potential to publish in internationally excellent publications
  • Experience in qualitative research method skills
  • Ability to cooperate and collaborate with cross disciplinary academic and industry partners within the IRIS project and beyond
  • Communications skills including for a non-specialist audience
  • A willingness to work in a new role whose precise parameters will be refined throughout the period of the appointment

This post offers an opportunity to gain research experience working in a prestigious, exciting, and entrepreneurial project with globally recognised institutions and IT companies with significant possibilities for networking and advancement.

We offer an occupational pension scheme, generous annual leave and excellent training and development opportunities.

For further information about the post, please see the how to apply document, job description and the person specification.

To apply for this post, please go to www.lse.ac.uk/LSEJobs. If you have any technical queries with applying on the online system, please use the “contact us” links at the bottom of the LSE Jobs page. Should you have any queries about the role, please email w.venters@lse.ac.uk

The closing date for receipt of applications is Wednesday 18 April (23.59 UK time). Regrettably, we are unable to accept any late applications.