The Impact Of Computers On Management
Contained herein is an array of exciting and knowledgeable papers that discuss, from assorted disciplinary angles, the "present and future impact of computers on management organization and the nature of managerial work." No two papers cover the same ground or reach identical conclusions, for the purpose of this collection is to articulate as completely as possible the relationship between man and machine and the role of both in industrial organization. Thus the question itself is defined in the succinct terms of its many answers.
The contributors to this volume reached the general agreement that "computers have affected certain management operations more than others, and that the dividing line is shifting as computer technology and—even more—experience with programming and systems design improve." Several points of disagreement create an atmosphere conducive to fresh speculation on old issues and to re-examination of dilemmas produced by recent advances in computer technology.
The individual training, experience, and opinion of the contributors dictate divergent attitudes toward the problem of defining computerization-managerial relationships. Yet, there are numerous areas of concern common to all papers: the centralization of organization structures, data-processing, and information technology; the importance of outside influence on organizational changes; the changing nature of managerial work; and the implications of computerization for the higher levels of management. An excellent discussion of these problems, in light of the contributions of the various authors, is presented in Dr. Myers' comprehensive introduction.
The original papers on which this book is based were prepared for a research conference convened in April 1966 at the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. With one exception, all participants are academicians who have concentrated their research efforts on the effects of computers on business organization. The first paper, by Thomas L. Whisler, begins with some conceptual problems of definition and research and concludes with studies done in the insurance industry. George E. Delehanty, writing from the economist's perspective, offers a research report on the effects of computerization on the organization structure of five life insurance firms. David Klahr and Harold J. Leavitt probe the relationships between computer programs, managerial tasks, and organization structures. Donald C. Carroll examines the implications of newer computer developments, especially online, real-time, and time-sharing systems. John Dearden questions whether the profit-center type of organization will be greatly affected by computers, while John A. Beckett discusses the "total-system" concept that has become popular in the management literature on computers. In closing, Charles R. DeCarlo of I.B.M. takes a more philosophical look at the impact of technique on management values, predicting that more tightly centralized organizations will not attract necessary managerial talent in the future. This theme concerns Jay W. Forrester as well, who sees a long-term trend toward organizational forms that will tend to satisfy individual initiative by utilizing the computer as a managerial aid instead of as a replacement. Edgar F. Huse presents in the appendix a case study of the implementation of a computerized program in an integrated managing company.