Discussion: Transmission of Control

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Discussion: Transmission of Control

Discussion: Transmission of Control

Modern organizations often face the challenge of managing a workforce that is spread across the world in iso- lation from direct supervision and working mostly in teams. Sales work is one area in which we see this. Rather than working in a central offi ce, external salespeople work remotely, relying on laptop computers, smart phones, the Web and apps linking them to customers, offi ce colleagues, sales support information, and other databases. The technical complexity of some products, such as enterprise software, necessitates a team‐based sales approach combining the expertise of many individuals, and technologies connect the team together.

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Modern organizations must also choose among three types of formal controls to ensure that work is done properly. 25 Behavior controls involve direct monitoring and supervision of employee actions while the work is being done. Vivid depictions of behavior controls are provided in road construction projects that have one employee dig- ging and another watching, motionless with arms folded. On the other hand, outcome controls involve examining work outcomes rather than work actions. Finally, personnel controls represent a proper fi t between the person and the job, often involving picking the right person for the task.

Social Business Lens: Activity Streams An activity stream is a list of activities on a Web site that briefl y highlight what the individuals connected to that stream are doing. Activity streams can include posts by individuals who share what they are doing or thinking and posts directly by other programs, which deposit an update about what an individual is doing. By collecting all of these posts in a single feed, the activity stream gives a reader a good sense of what is happening in a community.

Examples of activity streams are Facebook ’ s news feed and Salesforce.com ’ s Chatter. Companies that incor- porate activity streams in their social business platform report that teams using that technology had fewer face‐to‐ face meetings, reduced e‐mail, faster information fl ows, better collaboration, and increased responsiveness. An activity stream can keep staff updated on the happenings around an organization. For example, SAS , the interna- tional statistics and analytics software company, implemented an activity stream for its employees. Staff were able to keep track of what others were working on over an activity stream that mimicked the news feed that Facebook users see on their home page. Staff could share, comment on, or “like” pages and documents they found in their systems or on the Web and those entries would show up in the activity stream.

Source: David F. Carr , “ SAS Creates Internal Facebook with Socialcast ” (April 29, 2011 ), http://www.informationweek.com/ thebrainyard/news/social_networking_private_platforms/229402527/sas‐institute‐creates‐internal‐facebook‐with‐socialcast (accessed on April 5, 2012) .

24 For additional information on SmallBlue, see http://www.watson.ibm.com/cambridge/Projects/project8.shtml (accessed May 31, 2015). 25 L. J. Kirsch , “ Portfolios of Control Modes and IS Project Management ,” Information Systems Research 8 , no. 3 ( 1997 ), 215 – 239 ; W. G. Ouchi , “ The Transmission of Control through Organizational Hierarchy ,” Academy of Management Journal 21 , no. 2 ( 1978 ), 173 – 92 ; K. A. Merchant , Modern Management Control Systems, Text and Cases ( Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice‐Hall , 1998 ).

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