The Keller Center, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Social Organization (CSSO), is pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen R. Barley to the Princeton campus on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Barley will discuss three types of virtual work (virtual teams, remote control, and simulations) and how they can potentially alter the landscape of the traditional workplace.
The event, which will be followed by a light reception in the Bernstein Gallery of Robertson Hall, is sponsored by the Keller Center, the Center for the Study of Social Organization, and the William Pierson Field Lectureship.
Although organizational scholars have begun to study virtual work, they have yet to fully grapple with its diversity. We draw on semiotics to distinguish among three types of virtual work (virtual teams, remote control, and simulations) based on what it is that a technology makes virtual and whether work is done with or on, through, or within representations. Of the three types, simulations have been least studied, yet they have the greatest potential to change work's historically tight coupling to physical objects. Through a case study of an automobile manufacturer, we show how digital simulation technologies prompted a shift from symbolic to iconic representation of vehicle performance. The increasing verisimilitude of iconic simulation models altered workers' dependence on each other and on physical objects, leading management to confound operating within representations with operating with or on representations. With this mistaken understanding, and lured by the virtual, managers organized simulation work in virtual teams, thereby distancing workers from the physical referents of their models and making it difficult to empirically validate models. From this case study, we draw implications for the study of virtual work by examining how changes to work organization vary by type of virtual work.
About the Speaker
Stephen R. Barley is the Richard W. Weiland Professor of Management Science and Engineering, the Associate Chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering, and the Co- Director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization at Stanford's School of Engineering. He holds an AB. in English from the College of William and Mary, an M.Ed. from the Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in Organization Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to Stanford in 1994, Barley served for ten years on the faculty of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He was editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly from 1993 to 1997 and the founding editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review from 2002 to 2004.
Barley serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Annals, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Information and Organization, Engineering Studies and the Journal of Organizational Ethnography. He has been the recipient the Academy of Management's New Concept Award and was named Distinguished Scholar by the Academy of Management's Organization and Management Theory Division in 2006, Organization Communication and Information Systems Division in 2010 and Critical Management Studies Division in 2010. Barley has been a fellow at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management. In 2006 the Academy of Management Journal named Barley as the author of the largest number of "interesting" articles in the field of management studies.
Barley was a member of the Board of Senior Scholars of the National Center for the Educational Quality of the Workforce and co-chaired National Research Council and the National Academy of Science's committee on the changing occupational structure in the United States. The committee's report, The Changing Nature of Work, was published in 1999. He recently served on the National Research Council's committee on the Information Technology Research and Development Ecosystem.
Barley has written over sixty articles on the impact of new technologies on work, the organization of technical work and organizational culture. He edited a volume on technical work entitled Between Craft and Science: Technical Work in the United States published in 1997 by the Cornell University Press. In collaboration with Gideon Kunda of Tel Aviv University, Barley authored Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in the Knowledge Economy, an ethnography of contingent work among engineers and software developers published by the Princeton University Press in 2004.
Barley teaches courses on the management of R&D, project management, the organizational implications of technological change, organizational behavior, social network analysis and ethnographic field methods. He has served as a consultant to organizations in a variety of industries including publishing, banking, computers, electronics and aerospace.
Barley is currently researching corporate power in the United States, the rhetorical history of telecommuting, and how sophisticated mathematical modeling tools are altering the work of engineers who design automobiles.