Smart Agents and Organizations of the Future [chapter]

Kathleen M. Carley
Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Consequences of ICTs  
As we move to the 21 st century technologist point to the rapid changes in social and organizational activity that are expected to result from advances in computational technology. There can be little doubt that technology is altering organizations. Artificial agents such as WebBot, robots, and electronic shoppers are joining humans and organizations in the ranks of the smart agents that "work" in and among organizations. Computers are coming to control, or are involved in the operation of,
more » ... e operation of, everything from the office and home environment to routine purchases to strategic organizational decisions. As computers become embedded in every device, from pens to microwaves to walls, the spaces around us become intelligent (Nixon, Lacey and Dobson, 1999; Thomas and Gellersen, 2000). Intelligent spaces are characterized by the potential for ubiquitous access to and provision of information among potentially unbounded networks of agents (Kurzweil, 1988). Yet, we have little understanding of how to coordinate organizations in which humans and artificial agents work side-by-side, let alone how they work in these intelligent spaces. The industrial revolution enabled organizations to increase in size, number of divisions (Etzioni, 1964; Fligstein, 1985) , level of bureaucracy (Weber, 1947) , and level of hierarchy (Blau and Scott, 1962) . Information processing became key. Increasingly communication became organized so that orders and performance reports flowed down and information, decisions, and exceptions flowed up (March and Simon, 1958) . Individual opportunity became based on networks of connections among jobs rather than patronage or nepotism (White, 1970; Yamaagaata, Yeh, Stewman and Dodge, 1997). 2 New technologies, both at the manufacturing and at the communication level, enabled certain organizational designs and affected what was adopted (Beniger, 1986; Aldrich & Mueller, 1982) . Today, information processing, communication, and knowledge management became key. Changes in computational power, telecommunications, and information processing are affecting when, where and how work is done (DiMartino and Wirth, 1990; Sproull and Kiesler, 1991) . Further changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and technology are leading to the emergence of an increasingly mobile population and knowledge intensive organizations. New organizational designs are emerging such as network organizations (Nohira and Eccles, 1992; Miles and Snow, 1995) and virtual organizations (Lipnack and Stamps, 1997) . In these new organizations, even though information processing is key (Tushman and Nadler, 1978) , communication is not constrained to be vertical (Contractor and Eisenberg, 1990) . Organizational design becomes a strategic exercise in establishing and managing these relations (Burton and Obel, 1998) Rather, the network of connections within and among organizations act to constrain and enable the flow of goods, services, agents and information. Advances in engineering and computer science suggest further changes will be forthcoming in organizations as the population of smart agents in organizations expands and the space becomes intelligent (Carley, 1999a) . This chapter explores the potential effect of such changes on organizations. We begin by exploring the nature of smart agents and organizations as computational systems. The argument is set forward that the space which organizations occupy will become intelligent and individual's infospheres will expand. Within this space, search is likely to become the dominant task. Within this Command and Control Research and Technology. June. Monterray, CA. Krackhardt, David and Martin Kilduff. 1994. "Bringing the Individual Back In: A structural analysis of the internal market for reputation in organizations." Academy of Management Journal 37(1): 87-108.
doi:10.4135/9781446206904.n16 fatcat:sei42x7ctnbejcuk7otso4n3dm