Category Archives: Published Papers

Leading organisations without boundaries: ‘quantum’ organisation and the work of making meaning

Title: Leading organisations without boundaries: ‘quantum’ organisation and the work of making meaning
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Organisational & Social Dynamics 14(1) 130-153 (2014)

Digitalisation and the internet lead every client to expect more dynamic interaction with their situation, context and timing. Familiar examples from the perspective of the client are healthcare, financial services, air travel, mobile apps and the home delivery of food. An organisation that is interacting dynamically in different ways with each of its clients is best understood as being without boundaries. This paper uses a ‘quantum’ metaphor to think about this, considering each client interaction as a ‘quantum’. This leads to an understanding of the role of governance that can be ‘horizontal’ in its effects. Emery and Trist argued that while open-systems models enabled material exchange processes to be dealt with between the organisation and elements in its environment, “they did not deal with those processes in the environment itself which were the determining conditions of the exchanges… which were themselves often incommensurate with the organisation’s internal and exchange processes”. This led Emery and Trist to restrict the term “socio-technical” to ‘operative’ organisations, distinguishing them from ‘regulative’ or ‘referent’ organisations, which were instead focussed on inter-organisational behaviours within an ecosystem of organisations with differing interests. Accepting this difference means losing a direct identification between a physical system and the system of meaning that it reifies, forcing us to abandon the direct identification of boundary with container. In its place, the paper argues that the regulative or referent work of ‘quantum’ organisation has to be understood as one of making meaning within a larger ecosystem. The paper uses examples from healthcare to elaborate on this use of the ‘quantum’ metaphor, and draws conclusions about the leadership needed by these organisations without boundaries.

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Managing the risks of social disruption: what can we learn from the impact of social networking software?

Title: Managing the risks of social disruption: what can we learn from the impact of social networking software?
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Socioanalysis 15: 2013 (32-44)

Social media enable individuals to link together to form networks. These networks can cut across the boundaries of existing organisations to disrupt their existing ways of working. Three case examples are used to explore what is put at risk by these forms of social disruption. While existing ways of working may be disrupted, new possibilities may also be created. The paper uses Freud’s distinction between three kinds of identification to show how these disruptions may also evidence identifications of the third kind – identifications that give expression to new possibilities and new desires. The paper draws on a Lacanian understanding of how identification may be mediated by the effects of language. It argues that while identifications of the first two kinds may provide defences against anxiety, identifications of the third kind may provide support for creative responses to anxiety. The conclusion drawn is that in managing the risks of social disruption, individuals must work the relation between ‘above’ and ‘below’ the surface of their working relationships, but they must also work the relation between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the organisation with which they are identified.

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Evaluating platform architectures within ecosystems: modeling the relation to indirect value

Written by Philip Boxer
Thursday, 26 April 2012 16:33
Title: Evaluating platform architectures within ecosystems: modeling the relation to indirect value
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Publication Year: 2012
Where published: School of Engineering & Information Sciences, Middlesex UniversityThis thesis establishes a framework for understanding the role of a supplier within the context of a business ecosystem. Suppliers typically define their business in terms of capturing value by meeting the demands of direct customers. However, the framework recognises the importance of understanding how a supplier captures indirect value by meeting the demands of indirect customers. These indirect customers increasingly use a supplier’s products and services over time in combination with those of other suppliers . This type of indirect demand is difficult for the supplier to anticipate because it is asymmetric to their own definition of demand.Customers pay the costs of aligning products and services to their particular needs by expending time and effort, for example, to link disparate social technologies or to coordinate healthcare services to address their particular condition. The accelerating tempo of variation in individual needs increases the costs of aligning products and services for customers. A supplier’s ability to reduce its indirect customers’ costs of alignment represents an opportunity to capture indirect value.

The hypothesis is that modelling the supplier’s relationship to indirect demands improves the supplier’s ability to identify opportunities for capturing indirect value. The framework supports the construction and analysis of such models. It enables the description of the distinct forms of competitive advantage that satisfy a given variety of indirect demands, and of the agility of business platforms supporting that variety of indirect demands.

Models constructed using this framework are ‘triply-articulated’ in that they articulate the relationships among three sub-models: (i) the technical behaviours generating products and services, (ii) the social entities managing their supply, and (iii) the organisation of value defined by indirect customers’ demands. The framework enables the derivation from such a model of a layered analysis of the risks to which the capture of indirect value exposes the supplier, and provides the basis for an economic valuation of the agility of the supporting platform architectures.

The interdisciplinary research underlying the thesis is based on the use of tools and methods developed by the author in support of his consulting practice within large and complex organisations. The hypothesis is tested by an implementation of the modeling approach applied to suppliers within their ecosystems in three cases: (a) UK Unmanned Airborne Systems, (b) NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems, both within their respective theatres of operation, and (c) Orthotics Services within the UK’s National Health Service. These cases use this implementation of the modeling approach to analyse the value of platforms, their architectural design choices, and the risks suppliers face in their use.

The thesis has implications for the forms of leadership involved in managing such platform-based strategies, and for the economic impact such strategies can have on their larger ecosystem. It informs the design of suppliers’ platforms as system-of-system infrastructures supporting collaborations within larger ecosystems. And the ‘triple-articulation’ of the modelling approach makes new demands on the mathematics of systems modeling.

 

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The Twitter Revolution: how the internet has changed us

Title: The Twitter Revolution: how the internet has changed us
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Publication Year: 2012
Where published: Psychoanalytic Reflections on a Changing World, Halina Brunning (editor), Karnac

This chapter explores what psychoanalytic thinking can add to our current understanding of the ubiquitous ‘Twitter’ phenomenon, and considers how it might be changing our object relations and our societal relatedness. The chapter examines several interconnected aspects of the information revolution, including the Internet’s impact on individuals, markets, and society. It ends by considering how the “Twitter Revolution” might be changing the relationship between the individual and the realm of political.

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The Impact of Governance Approaches on SoS Environments

Title: The Impact of Governance Approaches on SoS Environments
Author: P.J. Boxer, P. Kirwan & H. Sassenburg
Category: Published
Publication year: 2010
Where Published: IEEE 4th International Systems Conference Proceedings

Governments worldwide are turning to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based systems of systems, commonly termed Electronic Government (eGovernment), to enable more timely, efficient and effective interaction with their citizens and with the business community. Citizens and businesses have dynamic and evolving demands related to the complexity of their lives and operational environments, respectively. A major challenge for government is to be able to understand the value derived from investment in eGovernment in order to improve its consequent ability to respond to the variety of demands of its citizens and businesses. To be able to understand the value derived from planned investments in eGovernment, their analysis needs to extend beyond the familiar approaches that address economies of scale and scope to encompass economies of alignment. These economies of alignment arise from being able to reduce the costs of the multiple forms of collaboration needing to be supported by systems of systems in providing greater responsiveness.

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Why critical systems need help to evolve

Title: Why critical systems need help to evolve
Author: Bernie Cohen & Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Publication Year: 2010
Where published: IEEE Computer

Classical engineering fails to model all the ways in which a critical sociotechnical system fits into a larger system. A study of orthotics clinics used projective analysis to better understand the clinics’ role in a healthcare system and to identify risks to the clinics’ evolution.

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The Swiss eGov Case: “Metadata 2010”

Written by Philip Boxer & Dr Hans Sassenburg
Thursday, 14 January 2010 22:06
Title: The Swiss eGov Case: “Metadata 2010”
Authors; Philip Boxer & Dr Hans Sassenburg
Category: Published
Where published: SEI Special Report

eGov projects are designed to impact on the relationships possible between the citizen and government, typically including relationships with multiple parts of government at different levels of government. As a result, the effects of eGov projects cannot be justified based on the direct effects of a project because the main benefits are indirect, intended as they are to affect the ways in which government activities can be aligned to the needs of the particular citizen. Multi-sided markets provide a way of describing the relationship between a supplier of services and the value of indirect benefits.
The traditional basis for justifying an investment is in terms of the supply-side economies of scale or scope generated by the direct effects of the investment on existing working practices and/or with respect to new revenues that can be captured. In the case of eGov projects, no such justifications are possible because all the effects are indirect, given the multi-sided nature of the demands being met. In their place demandside economies have to be identified, being economies in the costs of aligning government activities to the needs of particular citizens. A way of meeting the need to express monetary effects can be found in valuing the impact of introducing new eGov-investments on these costs of alignment, through the use of real option analysis.
This special report describes the results of a feasibility study executed in October-December 2009 for the Swiss Government. Fundamental objective was to be able to assess the value of different investment options aiming to increase the responsiveness of the Swiss Government to questions asked of it by its citizens and enterprises. The four different steps in the study are described, including their outcomes:
(1) demand analysis regarding the questions raised,
(2) main analysis to compare the different investment options considered using Monte Carlo simulation and real op-tion analysis,
(3) conclusions regarding the study, and
(4) recommendations for a follow-up project.

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Valuing Multi-Sided Systems

Title: Valuing Multi-Sided Systems
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Where published: SEI Special Report

The report examines the challenges surrounding Through-Life Capability Management where operational capability is not dependent on any one type of platform or equipment, but rather constitutes a composite capability generated through collaborating system of systems. It presents a multi-sided market framework for describing the relationship between composite capabilities generated in this way and the supporting role of its suppliers. This framework defines costs of alignment as the costs incurred by a user in bringing the collaborating systems together operationally to meet particular demands. These costs of alignment are demand-side costs, and the report describes the use of real option valuation methods to establish the value of changes in these demand-side costs of alignment arising as a consequence of introducing new supply-side flexibilities.

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What Price Agility? Managing Through-Life Purchaser-Provider Relationships on the Basis of the Ability to Price Agility

Written by Philip Boxer
Saturday, 14 November 2009 21:56
Title: What Price Agility? Managing Through-Life Purchaser-Provider Relationships on the Basis of the Ability to Price Agility
Author: Philip Boxer
Category: Published
Where published: SEI Special Report

In its 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy, the U. K. Ministry of Defence invited Industry to join it in moving towards contracting for the through-life management of military capability. For Industry Sectors such as C4ISTAR which could not identify capability with particular equipment or platforms, the path to through-life capability management was barely defined. Thus, Industry has been encouraged to make its own proposals. The aim of this report is to examine the type of agility the MoD invitation implies, suggest a means to provide management of the through-life capability it requires, and provide the basis for identifying the nature of the competitive advantages open to Industry that will make it commercially viable to take up the different relationship with the Ministry of Defence.

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Selected Considerations in Systems of Systems – 1

Title: Selected Considerations in Systems of Systems – 1
Authors: Philip Boxer & Suzanne Garcia
Category: Published
Where published: CMU/SEI Technical Note

For many large-scale, systems-intensive organizations, the tempo of operations using software-reliant systems is different from that of the acquisition or development processes for those systems. Organizations use a variety of approaches that attempt to synchronize, for operational use, the integration and fielding of interoperating software-reliant systems. They continue to confront the issue of how fielded software can support the increasing agility needed by a deployed, operational workforce.
This paper describes three concepts that we find useful in explaining the problem and in reasoning about possible solutions: (1) understanding a double challenge related to governance and how an enterprise responds to the demands in its environment, (2) sustaining an operations-driven perspective, even while many of the constraints relate to managing from the central parts of the organizations, and (3) making effective use of stratification, a layered approach to relating key system-of-systems engineering and governance issues.

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