Thursday, February 19, 2015

Object Salience in the Division of Labor: Experimental Evidence

RAVEENDRAN Marlo, PURANAM Phanish, WARGLIEN Massimo
Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2015/17/STR


When we engage in the process of division of labor, there are typically multiple alternatives, but insufficient knowledge to choose among them. Under such conditions, we propose that not all alternatives are equally likely to be pursued. In particular, we argue that when we engage in the process of division of labor for novel and non-repetitive production, we display a tendency to perceive and select object-based task partitions over activity-based partitions. We experimentally investigate how the salience of objects over activities manifests itself in individuals and groups engaged in division of labor for the assembly of more or less decomposable products. We draw implications for organization design as well as the impact of technological change on organizations.