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The economies (and diseconomies) of distributed technologies: The increasing tension among hierarchy and p2p

Sergio Barile (Department of Management, Sapienza University of Rome , Rome, Italy)
Cristina Simone (Department of Management, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza , Rome, Italy)
Mario Calabrese (Department of Management, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza , Rome, Italy)

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 2 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to focus on distributed technologies with the aim of highlighting their economic-organizational dimensions. In particular, the contribution first presents a deeper understanding of the nature and the dynamics of the economies and diseconomies that arise from the adoption and diffusion of distributed technologies. Second, it aims to shed light on the increasing tension between the hierarchy-based model of production and peer-to-peer (p2p) production, which involves the pervasive diffusion of distributed technologies.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting an economic-organizational perspective, which is deeply rooted in the related extant literature, an analytically consistent model is developed to simultaneously take into account the following variables: adoption density independent variable) and economies of knowledge integration and organizational diseconomies (the costs of a loss of control and the costs of organizational decoupling and recoupling) as dependent variables.

Findings

Distributed technologies allow access to a large quantity and a wide variety of cognitive slacks that have not been possible until now. In doing so, they are leading the transition towards p2p. This is an emerging production paradigm that is characterized – with respect to mass production – by a shift in the relative importance of cognitive slack in comparison with tangible slack. Nevertheless, the unrestrainable diffusion of distributed technologies is not neutral for organizations. On the one hand, these technologies allow for the integration of economies of knowledge, and on the other hand, they involve organizational diseconomies that should not be ignored by managers and researchers.

Originality/value

This paper fills a gap in the literature by developing a consistent analytical framework that simultaneously takes into account the economies of knowledge integration and potential organizational diseconomies (the costs of coordination and the loss of control) that arise from the adoption and diffusion of distributed technologies.

Keywords

Citation

Barile, S., Simone, C. and Calabrese, M. (2017), "The economies (and diseconomies) of distributed technologies: The increasing tension among hierarchy and p2p", Kybernetes, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 767-785. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-11-2016-0314

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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