From Lock-in to Transformation: A Morphogenetic Theory of Emerging Technology and Organizing
The Information System Seminar Series features, Youngjin Yoo, the Elizabeth M. and William C. Treuhaft Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of information systems in the Department of Design & Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, USA
We draw on ideas from biology, sociology, and general systems theory to articulate a morphogenetic perspective on emerging technology and organizing. The morphogenetic perspective reflects a move from a device-centric or an actor-centric understanding of technology to a path-centric understanding of the patterns of actions afforded by technology-in-use. We identify performing and patterning as self-reinforcing mechanisms of morphogenesis in the domain of emerging technology and organizing. We use a dynamic simulation to show that performing and patterning can lead to a wide range of trajectories, from lock-in to transformation, depending on how emerging technology-in-use influences the trajectory. When emerging technologies afford many new actions that can be flexibly recombined, decisive transformative effects are more likely. We illustrate this theory with examples from the practice of pharmaceutical drug discovery and discuss implications for future research.