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“The Shift towards technological determination?"

Jesse Segers (Universiteit Antwerpen / Antwerp Management School): “The Shift towards technological determination?”

●1. If I understand Lynda Gratton correctly, she argues that on the one hand large organizations will become bigger with smaller organizations circling around it, while at the same time she argues that middle managers are likely to disappear, partially as a result of aversion against hierarchy and increasing wish for autonomy.

Hence, can Lynda Gratton help me understand how these large organizations might look like?
Will they be very big, but flat? And if not, who wants to work there?

And what role will technology play in those large organizations? Today technology, like SAP and Peoplesoft, is rigid and does not allow customization towards an individual (something which seems to be needed in flat organizations). “The computer says no”-concept…

At the same time, I’m pretty skeptical about predictions that middle managers will disappear. In 1958 in an HBR article of Leavitt & Whistler titled ‘Management in the 1980’s’, they argued that a combination of management science and information technology would cause middle management to shrink, top management to take on more creative functions, and large organizations to centralize again. More than 50 years later we still have middle managers, and more and more research shows (e.g. Ethan Mollick of the Wharthon school recently wrote a paper on it) how vital they are in renewing the organizational capacities, just because the organizations are getting bigger and bigger…

●2. I always hear about China as a kind of threat:

Chinese, and sometimes Indian people, are cheaper, more motivated and increasingly better educated. And I always wonder next: why is it, that those people do not suffer from burn-out’s, while we increasingly do? (Is it propaganda or can we learn from them?)

Especially given the fact that the unions are not playing an important role in those countries. How does Lynda Gratton think the role of the unions might evolve in the world?

Our solution for the aging population, seems to be welcoming a lot of immigration. E.g. from China. But how do you think China will solve this challenge, given their 4:2:1 economy? Who are the immigrants of China?

●3. Very often the solution for all these changes are entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation. And wonder, however, what efficiency will mean in 15 years from now?

Jesse Segers (Universiteit Antwerpen / Antwerp Management School)

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