Managerial spans, industry tasks and ICT: evidence from the U.S
The knowledge theoretic view of organization of production postulates that ICT, tasks and hierarchies intertwine. Utilizing Occupational Employment Statistics and O*NET data, this study investigates the proposition by exploiting the substantial cross-industry variation in hierarchical forms, which are here captured by spans of control among middle and corporate managers. Information [IT] and communication technologies [CT] are explored separately, and the parsimonious task taxonomy depicts industries in four dimensions: tacit knowledge, cognitive, physical/technical and interaction. The key predictions of the knowledge hierarchy literature can hence be tested and the findings largely reverberate with theory. First, ICT influences middle and corporate manager spans dissimilarly reflecting technological asymmetries in hierarchies. Higher IT utilization narrows organizations yet CT expands middle management. Second, industry tasks govern organizational outcomes. Cognitive tasks flatten and technical/physical tasks narrow hierarchies. Third, the descriptive evidence suggests that hierarchies are highly non-pyramidal across U.S. industries. Finally, the key insight is that spans in top hierarchy are insular to tasks yet organizations down the middle management reflect the nature of industry. With some exceptions the results are robust to exogenous variation in ICT utilization.
|Date of creation:||24 May 2012|
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