Organizations as Artificial Intelligences: The Use of Artificial Intelligence Analogies in Organization Theory

Academy of Management Annals (forthcoming)

69 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2021

See all articles by Felipe A. Csaszar

Felipe A. Csaszar

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Tom Steinberger

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Date Written: April 26, 2021

Abstract

A rarely acknowledged fact about organization theory (OT) is that many of its ideas stem from the field of artificial intelligence (AI). For example, key OT concepts such as problemistic search, heuristics, exploration, requisite variety, and organizational scripts, all have their roots in AI. The main goal of this paper is to expose the full range of AI ideas that have been used in OT. We do so by explaining key AI ideas and showing how OT used them. Our review covers over 100 OT works that depend on AI ideas both critically and explicitly. We group these ideas into ten AI approaches that speak to three fundamental processes in organizations: search, representation, and aggregation. We argue that this broad and deep borrowing from AI stems from fundamental structural similarities between AI and OT, as both fields study how artificial systems (programs and organizations) can pursue intelligent behavior. We also identify areas of AI from which OT scholars may continue to draw inspiration and suggest ways in which AI technologies may continue to affect organizations. Overall, our work shows that, beyond its effect as a technology, AI has given OT a set of models about how organizations work.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, organization theory

JEL Classification: D21, D23, D81, D83, O31

Suggested Citation

Csaszar, Felipe A. and Steinberger, Tom, Organizations as Artificial Intelligences: The Use of Artificial Intelligence Analogies in Organization Theory (April 26, 2021). Academy of Management Annals (forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3834459

Felipe A. Csaszar (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
(734) 615 4854 (Phone)

Tom Steinberger

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) ( email )

373-1 Kusong-dong
Yuson-gu
Taejon 305-701, 130-722
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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