Organizations Decentered: Data Objects, Technology and Knowledge

Organization Science

20 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2022

See all articles by Cristina Alaimo

Cristina Alaimo

LUISS University

Jannis Kallinikos

London School of Economics (LSE) - Department of Management; Luiss University

Date Written: January 20, 2022


Data are no longer simply a component of administrative and managerial work but a pervasive resource and medium through which organizations come to know and act upon the contingencies they confront. We theorize how the ongoing technological developments reinforce the traditional functions of data as instruments of management and control but also reframe and extend their role. By rendering data as technical entities, digital technologies transform the process of knowing and the knowledge functions data fulfil in socioeconomic life. These functions are most of the times mediated by putting together disperse and steadily updatable data in more stable entities we refer to as data objects. Users, customers, products, and physical machines rendered as data objects become the technical and cognitive means through which organizational knowledge, patterns, and practices develop. Such conditions loosen the dependence of data from domain knowledge, reorder the relative significance of internal versus external references in organizations, and contribute to a paradigmatic contemporary development that we identify with the decentering of organizations of which digital platforms are an important specimen.

Keywords: digital technology, organizational form, organization and management theory, organizational processes, practice, information technology and systems, organization communication and information systems, digital transformation, data, data objects, algorithms, AI

Suggested Citation

Alaimo, Cristina and Kallinikos, Jannis, Organizations Decentered: Data Objects, Technology and Knowledge (January 20, 2022). Organization Science, Available at SSRN:

Cristina Alaimo (Contact Author)

LUISS University ( email )


Jannis Kallinikos

London School of Economics (LSE) - Department of Management ( email )

Houghton Street
GB-London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Luiss University ( email )

Viale Romania 32
Rome, 00197

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