University of Dayton
School of Business Administration
Summer 1, 2006

MBA 669
Special Topics:  IT-Enabled Organizational Forms

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This page was last modified on Monday March 29, 2010


Dr. David Salisbury
Anderson Center, Room 103
937.229.5085 (office); 937.229.1030 (facsimile) (professor)
Tuesday/Thursday, 600-915 MH 213
Tuesday/Thursday 300-545 or by appointment (email usage is especially encouraged)

Course Overview

Identify and examine the interaction and reciprocal influences between information technology and organizational structure and function. Examine the influence of technology on how we think about business organization and vice versa. Discuss how the use of technology can evolve in ways not intended or pre-planned. Encourage thinking of how organizational structure can be conceptualized in terms of the extent to which products, services and business processes are comprised of information rather than tangible properties or hard goods. Specific current and emerging concepts will be presented and studied for implications for the practicing business leader. Examples of these include: knowledge management, virtual organizations, outsourcing, enterprise resource planning, business reengineering and customer relationship management. 

The course deals primarily with the manner by which information technology enables us to think differently about how organizations are designed.  We will focus primarily on underlying assumptions about how individuals, groups, businesses and societies organize themselves, and about how these are called into question by the advent of advanced information technologies.  This class will touch on a variety of themes that at times overlap and at other times seem incongruous.  This is to be expected, as the reach of information technology (admittedly writ large and painted with broad strokes) is pervasive, and influences a variety of interactions between organizations, individuals, businesses, and countries.  

A key focus of the course will be on how the informational component of a business product, service, process or relationship is leveraged using information technology.  We will cast a critical eye toward how information technology has influenced our world, and how we have employed it influences its design and use.  This being said, we are not Luddites, and our critical eye is not intended to judge the pervasive nature of IT in organizations as good or bad, but as something that influences how managers now and in the future will organize themselves and their work, and how organizations will be designed. 

While not every part of this books aligns with the course, Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree describes a great many phenomena that, at their core, are influenced heavily by information technology, and that also have relevance for this course.  Hence, we will read this book together as sort of a companion to the course.  One of the things I see in Friedman's description of globalization that I hope you will to is the notion of reciprocal causality.  For example, is information technology a driver, an enabler, a product of globalization, or more than one of these?   Some weeks there will be topics in chapters in this book that cover exactly the things we're discussing;  others, not so much.  This being said, to function as a manager in the world today one needs to be (to quote a local business person who gave a guest lecture to my student group) "Fat rather than thin".  In other words, the excellent manager will need to be "pretty good" at a lot of things (and be able to see the linkages) rather than "great" at any one thing.  Silos are out; integration is in.  Hence, being able to pull the course-relevant parts out of a book like Friedman's is a skill worth picking up.  I would also think it might help trigger some paper ideas (see schedule and assignments below). 

Course Materials

Required: MBA 669 Readings (full reference list to be sent via email). 

Friedman, T. L.  (2000).  The Lexus and the Olive Tree:  Understanding Globalization.  New York:  Anchor Books.   

Other materials to be distributed as necessary. 

Course Procedures

Course Assignments

A large proportion of each student's grade in this course will be assessed on the basis of the student's performance on various assignments and readings that are expected to be completed through the semester. All assignments are to be completed by individuals, unless otherwise stated on the assignment.

Timeliness of Assignment Submission

It is important to submit assignments on time. All assignments are due on the assigned date. This policy will be strictly enforced, except as mentioned under the excuses section.

You should also be aware that you are responsible to see that your assignment has been submitted properly. I am not going to be chasing people down to make certain that they have submitted their work. Finally, marks which have been posted for one week are final.  Hence, you should keep track regularly of your course marks as posted on the database. 

Class Attendance and Participation

Class time will be devoted to lectures, case discussion, and open discussion concerning issues relevant to the course. Contrary to popular belief (at least among my undergraduates), my job is not merely to impart information to you, but to help you learn. The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted. Your participation is extremely important to the learning process for yourself and the entire class. Consequently, class attendance and participation are strongly encouraged. For your information, I do keep a participation record, and both will influence your mark as noted below. Please also note that attendance is not the same as participation.

Another encouragement to attend is that you are responsible for anything that transpires in class. If you miss an assignment due date or other changes because you were not in class (or don't get it via email), it is your problem.

Please do not leave the class once you have chosen to attend -- it tends to be distracting for the rest of the class. If you must leave early, please sit near the door to make your departure unobtrusive, or do not attend at all. Please do not be late when you attend. Too many people coming after class starts creates a real disturbance. I reserve the right to take corrective action if it becomes a problem.

Reading Assignments

You will find that I believe in a variety of perspectives, hence there will be a variety of readings.  Therefore, especially in the summer, it will be rather easy to fall behind. Please ensure that you stay current in your readings -- it is expected that you will have read in advance the material to be covered in class on a given day, and be able to discuss it.

Communication with the instructor

While I am around a lot, I am not in perpetually. Consequently, much interaction with me will be through e-mail (  You should also note that I intend to communicate with you via email as well; hence, it is important that you check your email often, and clean out old messages so that you do not exceed your email quota (which would result in the message "bouncing"). 

Examination Procedures

The final examination will contain essays and short answers.  The exam will be based on the required readings, on the in-class discussion and material and on the other readings assigned by the instructor. If you must miss the examination, be prepared to document a reason. 

Thought Papers

Each student will be expected to prepare a series of thought papers as part of the course requirements.  These papers will be expected to either a) summarize and synthesize the material for the class meeting in which a given paper has been assigned, or b) delve deeply into one or more of the articles for that week by providing your own perspective.  In addition to fulfilling a course assignment, your thought papers will be provided to each of the other students in the course via links on the website, to serve as preparation aids for the final examination.  There are eight (8) of these required during the term. 

While every student is expected to be well-prepared for every class, on certain nights (actually three for each student this term) your level of preparation will be expected to be even higher.  Three times during the term you will be asked to be the student leader for that evening's class.  You and a partner (or partners) will serve as student leaders for the classes indicated in the syllabus.  While your instructor will handle the bulk of the material presentation, the student leaders will be expected to provide a review of the materials, a synopsis of the key points, and a few "talking points", insights, etc., to get the class discussion that day started. 

Course Term Paper and Presentation

Since one of the points of this exercise is to help you to take what's offered here and put your own perspective and understanding into it, there will be a term paper for this course.  The term paper will involve you taking some aspect of the material that has been discussed this term and developing a thesis on how it impacts organizational form.  "Organizational form" is somewhat loosely defined for this exercise - for the purposes of this assignment  it may be taken to mean the manner in which an organization performs its functions, how it interacts with its members, external stakeholders (customers, suppliers) or other relevant parties (e.g.. government, society at large, etc.).  You may also look at macro-level impacts of a particular technology-related phenomenon on a given unit of analysis (say a particular industry, or perhaps government, or other institutions like education or heck, even religions). All of these are organizations; just not necessarily business organizations.  The impact you are looking to assess is that of any information technology or closely related aspect thereof.  In essence you should develop and elaborate a thesis that describes some aspect of the influence of IT on the organization (or entity) you choose in terms of its function, structure, or interaction with various stakeholders. You may focus on either positive or negative aspects of this impact (or both).  Expect the paper to be between 15-20 double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins plus figures, references, tables, etc. 

You will submit the paper in two drafts.  The first draft will be just that - mostly done, but needing refinement.  I will mark against a "rough draft" standard on the first pass, then return them to you the next class.  You will then have until the date noted in the syllabus to complete and submit the final draft, which will be marked against a higher standard (i.e. that of a completed paper).  You will also make a 20 to 25 minute presentation of your paper, why it's important to understand, and how it reflects your understanding of the influence of IT on a particular domain (see syllabus for date/time).  Please feel free to discuss paper topics with me throughout the semester. 

Grading Scale and Course Components

The grading scale and grading components are presented below. If you make any of the cut-offs, you will receive that mark. For example, if you earn 930 points, you will receive an "A" for the course, or if you receive 885 points, you will receive a "B+" for the course.

Grade Assignment

Grade Components


>=900 <930
>=870 <900
>=830 <870
>=800 <830
>=770 <800
>=730 <770
>=700 <730
>=600 <700
<600 (failure)

Class Participation
Thought Papers/Notes (5 @ 40 each)
Term Paper First Draft
Term Paper Final Draft
Term Paper Presentation
Final Examination
Total Points


Since the marks in my classes over the long term tend to look like a normal curve, I tend not to force an artificial curve. On the odd chance that there is a curve it will be applied only on the overall grade in all sections I teach. Thus, no question of curving will be entertained until after the final. In addition, no extra credit assignments will be offered; if you are unable to perform well on what has already been assigned, I donít wish to burden you with extra work.  Finally, I encourage you that if you are in trouble, try to demonstrate an effort to improve and ask for help. Do not fail in silence.

Academic Dishonesty

I will vigorously pursue the prosecution of academic dishonesty. It is understood and that students often learn and work together; consequently you may be asking questions or getting help from others. Be very clear, however, that there is a reasonably obvious distinction between "help" and "cheating", which I will elaborate repeatedly in class throughout the semester. In instances where such misconduct is proven, I will invoke University of Dayton policy to the most severe option available to me, which is an "F" in the course. Please consult the most recent edition of the "Student Handbook" for further information on Student Code of Conduct and Academic Policies.

Acceptable Excuses for Rescheduling Exams, Late Assignments, etc.

Note: There likely are other acceptable excuses that I've not anticipated, but you should receive permission from me personally in advance.

Accommodations for Students with Special Needs

The University of Dayton is committed to providing equal access to its educational opportunities for all its students, including those with special needs.  If you fit this category, inform your instructor, and also contact the Office for Students with Disabilities, who, along with your instructor will devise the appropriate accommodations for your need.

Four Easy Ways to Raise Your Grade

Changes to the Syllabus

Since the main objective of this class is for you to learn relevant and useful stuff. I reserve the right to alter the syllabus as necessary to meet this goal. Any such changes will be announced, in class, and will be explained.


I took this position because I enjoy teaching and learning, and as such, I am concerned about your learning and your progress in the class. If you have a problem, complaint, comment, concern, etc., please schedule an appointment or drop in during open office hours.

Schedule--Subject to review and change.

Class Date

Anticipated Topics

Student Leaders*

Specific Topic Readings Friedman



Course introduction - information intensity, infrastructure & information-based organizations None Drucker (1988) 1-4 (focus on 2 & 4)



Infrastructure & information & their implications DA, MS Sawhney & Parikh (2001) 5-7
(3) 23-T Organizational structure, collaboration, coordination & communication, virtual organizations, virtual collaboration RL, JL Fulk & DeSanctis (1995) - thru 345, Victor & Stephens (1994), Gerlach (2001) 8
(4) 25-H Employer-employee relationships, managing dispersed employees, outsourcing/offshoring RC, CS Bailey & Kurland (2002), Apgar (1998), Handy (1998), Lewin & Peeters (2006), Khaifa & Davidson (2000) 9


Inter-organizational competition/collaboration, customer relationships, Supplier relationships/supply chain, ERP JL, DA Margretta (1998), Davenport (1998), Sawhney (2001), Kahn (2003) 10-11
1-H Codification of procedures, decision-making, data mining, business intelligence/analytics CS, RL Davenport (2006), Loveman (2003), Garvin (1995) 12-13



Knowledge management RC, JL Hansen, Nohria & Tierney (1999), Nonaka (1991), Garvin (1993) 14
Guest speaker, Lt. Col. Summer Bartczak, USAF, Ph.D.


"New" media & channels, information economics & internet time, moving from place to space, ubiquitous commerce RL, CS Junglas & Watson (2006), Gulati & Garino (2000), Cassidy (2006), The Economist on Weblogs (2006), Hanson (1998) 15
First draft of term paper due


IT & Government Services/Function, IT & Education Delivery DA, RC Salisbury, Pearson, Miller & Marett (2002), The Economist on E-Government (2000) 16


Ethical issues of the information age, alternate applications of virtual organizational forms & knowledge management, reliability of information & systems None Mason (1986), Salisbury & Gopal (2003; 2006) The Economist on WikiPedia (2006) 17


Final Paper Presentations, Review & Catch up Presenters   18-20


Final Examination - In Class None    
  24-S Term paper Final Draft due by 5PM in my office      

*These can be adjusted the first day of class depending on individual interests, etc.