Outline of the Book
In the remainder of this book, the results of the Initiative's work are organized into three main sections:
What is changing?
What can you do about it?
What do you want in the first place?
The first of these sections, "What Is Changing?," has two parts. One, "Why Are Things Changing?," involves the broad environmental forces that have been driving transformation of the business world in recent years and theoretical frameworks for understanding them. The other, "How Are Things Changing?," involves specific examples of the new organizational practices that are emerging.
The second section, "What Can You Do About It?," also has two primary parts. The first, "Inventing New Strategies," focuses on how the business landscape that has emerged in recent years has created novel ways of gaining competitive advantage. The latter, "Inventing New Organizations," focuses on how firms can create and manage the fluid structures that information technologies enable and competitive realities demand.
The final section, "What Do You Want in the First Place?," is closely tied to the spirit of invention that animated our Initiative in the first place. If we are truly going to invent the future, and not just predict it, we need to know what goals we are trying to achieve. In the case of business, we believe there is a profound opportunity to invent organizations that help achieve a broader range of human goals than just the purely economic ones many firms have emphasized in our recent past. The last section of the book reflects on what human values we want our businesses to serve, and gives examples of how new kinds of organizations can help achieve those values.
The articles included in this volume are by researchers from a variety of disciplines—business history, economics, industrial relations, information systems, operations research, organization studies, strategy. In selecting the articles, however, we have sought works that, while strongly grounded in their respective disciplines, are still understandable by those with backgrounds in other fields. Our goal was a book that is broadly accessible across academic disciplines, and of interest to practicing managers as well. We hope that we can help stimulate broad discussion about these issues, not only among researchers from many different fields, but also among managers, consultants, and others in business today. Most of all, we hope that this volume can help all of us invent organizations for the twenty-first century that will not only be more economically productive but also more humanly desirable.
The Organizational Learning Center was later spun out from MIT as the Society for Organizational Learning (SOL).
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