Technological change and organizational structure. A longitudinal study
We frame our contribution in the context of longitudinal data that we are currently collecting on technological change and knowledge transfer relations among members in a department of “clinical nephrology, nutrition and dialysis” within a hospital located in Northern Italy. The department is organized into three separate units with health care professionals interacting both within as well as between units. The final dataset will contain information collected over three successive time periods with the episode of technological change observed between the first and the second periods. The new technology being introduced involves a new computerized system for recording and managing clinical data.
The first two waves of data have already been collected and coded. The data currently available include information on 25,764 usable dyads recording the presence or absence of information exchange relations among all the members of the department. The third wave will be collected before the beginning of the project which we expect to be in October 2014. The empirical setting selected for study provides an almost ideal opportunity for examining the relation between technology and organizational structure because: (i) The new technology is related to a major change in work practices adopted by employees working in the department; (ii) Most of the employees do not have previous direct work experience with the new technology, and hence need to rely on the advice of their co-workers, and (iii) Transfer of information through informal social contacts is particularly important for health care professional working in knowledge-intensive organizations. The research will be carried out within the Social Network Analysis Research (SoNAR) Center, a new research unit established and directed by the Principal Investigator at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Lugano (http://www.sonarcenter.eco.usi.ch/).