Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 35 Number 4 2018 pp. 995-997

Editorial Introduction

Zwass, Vladimir


Information technology (IT) outsourcing has become a default way of doing business for many firms. The nature of the outsourcing has changed as well, in many cases, extending well beyond the resource arbitrage, where cost-savings or access to expertise are the primary aims. Through IT outsourcing arrangements, many organizations now pursue strategic goals of competing in the marketplace. This vastly increases the stakes as the potential benefits and risks to the outsourcing client rise; as the context of the outsourcing contracts becomes more complex; and as the relationship between the client and supplier over the time of the contract is more entangled. During earlier times when non-strategic needs were addressed, IT outsourcing contracts were, by their nature, incomplete and left much to the execution, with many non-contractible contracts. The far more complex strategic outsourcing of today calls for the specification of and investment in formal controls that aim at incentive alignment between the two parties and for coordination and monitoring of actions over the long run of the contract. The more intricate outsourcing relationships and contracts also call for more nuanced research in the outsourcing-controls domain. In the opening paper of the issue, Nishtha Langer and Deepa Mani present such a study: They examine empirically the differential effects of activity controls, output controls, and capability controls on the client’s satisfaction and on the project profitability. The deployment of a rich longitudinal dataset of strategic outsourcing contracts executed by a major outsourcer helps the researchers to expand our knowledge of the domain and to offer guidance to organizations.

Dispersed, or virtual, teams are widely deployed. And yet, as they rely largely on IT rather than personal interaction, these teams encounter multiple challenges stemming from this fact. There are many virtues here that collocated teams do not offer; these advantages may include round-the-clock operation, access to locally unavailable expertise, and enhanced diversity. However, the absence of social interaction has a negative effect and needs to be compensated for to the extent possible. The perception of (un)fairness in the organizational treatment of team members coheres into the (in)justice climate perceived by the team as a body. In the next paper, Massimo Magni, Manju K. Ahuja, and Likoebe M. Maruping study the effects of the intra-team justice climate on the performance of virtual teams. The authors find that procedural justice has perceptible effects on team performance and alleviates to an extent the drawbacks of team dispersion.

As IT permeates our working and private lives, the dark side of its use becomes ever more obvious and does not escape the attention of the researchers in several disciplines. The authors of the next paper use systematics approach to categorize organizational cyberdeviance. Such categorization lays a foundation for further study and for the development of the appropriate countermeasures. Srinivasan Venkatraman, Christy M.K. Cheung, Zach W.Y. Lee, Fred D. Davis, and Viswanath Venkatesh offer an integrated typology of cyberdeviance that links the extant research programs and can serve to inform the future research, as well as to formulate public policy and create focused organizational actions.

With the advance of IT and of the information systems that we organize with these many and varied technologies, the locus of a great variety of decisions is shifting toward the “machines.” How do we choose, apportion, and organize such joint human-machine decision making? Our field has much to offer to this key research program. Here, Junius Gunaratne, Lior Zalmanson, and Oded Nov contribute by empirically comparing the persuasiveness of the algorithmic advice of the “machines” with the human advice of the “crowds.” Along with the advice itself, the source of the advice is known to the decision taker. Algorithms are found to be more persuasive in the context actualized by these researchers. This work opens a wide research avenue in our understanding of human-machine decision making and decision taking.

Another approach to the multi-source recommendations is the subject of investigation by the authors of the next paper, Junpeng Guo, Wenxiang Zhang, Weiguo Fan, and Wenhua Li. They study the integration of the online social influences with geographical information to produce personalized point-of-interest recommendations. This type of recommendations may prove to be a key to success (or failure, if inadequate) of mobile commerce enterprises, including tourism and hotel services, and of the related advertisements. The authors demonstrate how deep learning can be harnessed in such integration of the social recommendation with the location information. The authors show the superiority of their approach and open another avenue to the combination of various forms of decision-making information.

Although the gig economy relies on various types of short-term engagement, its emblem has become the crowdwork on the Amazon Mechanical Turk style. The authors of the next paper in this issue, Xiao Ma, Lara Khansa, and Sung S. Kim, characterize the working conditions of MTurk as challenging. Outside of the MTurk scope, its crowdworkers are involved in their online communities. The paper analyzes the turnover of crowdworkers, which, unsurprisingly, is high. The research question posed by the authors is: How does the participation of the crowdworkers in their autonomous online communities influence their turnover intentions? What makes this question even more interesting is that the people participate in two interrelated yet institutionally independent online social contexts, crowdwork and purposeful social interaction. The ability to compensate with online interaction with their peers for the alienating circumstances of their work should affect the workers’ turnover intentions. In a much richer theoretical paper than recast here, the authors contribute to our theoretical understanding of the dual-context online behavior and to the practice of organizing crowdwork, which is here to stay.

Another aspect of co-creation in the online economy is the subject of study by Mahdi Moqri, Xiaowei Mei, Liangfei Qiu, and Subhajyoti Bandyopadhyay. Deploying a unique longitudinal dataset, the researchers investigate the effect of online following on the members’ contribution in the communities producing open source software (OSS). The effect is positive, which shows the importance of social factors as contribution motivators. Moreover, freelancers are affected more strongly in this direction than the contributors who are employed, which points to a monetary career-related motivation in OSS contributions. This is a step forward to our understanding of the rich motivational spectrum in co-creation and is also a source of advice to the OSS platforms.

One of the attributes our economy has acquired over the recent decades of information overabundance is that of attention economy. Much of that attention is garnered by the marketers plying us with onscreen product descriptions and online advertisements. In a competitive environment, the natural question to ask is how one can capture more of that attention. In a fine-grained research project, Jae-Hyeon Ahn, Yoon-Soo Base, Jaehyon Ju, and Wonseok Oh use eye-tracking experiments—as well as a strong theoretical base—to examine the consumers’ allocation of attention to the product choices displayed during an online search. The direct access to the users’ eye movements allows the researchers to establish how these potential consumers husband their attention resources in the patterns of adjustment and renewal. Marketers may be surprised to find that about 80% of the product choices displayed receives no attention at all.

The deplorable practice of launching software products with known and severe software defects is not uncommon. This is often done to meet the time-to-market or other release deadline. As software becomes the lifeblood of products and organizations, much attention must be paid to eradicate this practice. Here, Hyung Koo Lee, Jong Seok Lee, and Mark Keil explore a novel approach to accomplishing this. They propose to use the escalation-of-commitment idea in reverse to de-escalate the commitment of product managers to a launch date for the software product, when defects are known to remain. The novelty of the proposed approach is the psychological tactic of inducing the product managers to take the view of the future users of their product. Laboratory experiments show that the approach works under the conditions created. This stimulating study opens a new line of research on the application of perspective-taking in our field.

The concluding paper of the issue, by Anton Ivanov and Raj Sharman, casts light on the influence of the user-generated content (UGC) online on the reputation and financial performance of a critically important segment of hospitals. The authors contextualize a conceptual reputation model in an interesting way and arrive at the results that are significant to our understanding of the role of co-creation in the forming of organizational reputations. It is gratifying to see that the UGC reputation for quality (rather than online prominence) is a strong predictor of financial performance. Based on their work, the researchers are able to offer the guidelines to the healthcare providers on enhancing their reputation. The feedback loop constituted by UGC can and should be deployed to improve the factors underlying that reputation.