Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 3 2022 pp. 824-833

Special Section: Reevaluating Markets for Information

Kauffman, Robert J, Weber, Thomas A, and ,

Robert J. Kauffman ([email protected]; corresponding author) holds the Endowed Chair in Digitalization at the Copenhagen Business School and is Emeritus Professor of Information Systems at Singapore Management University (SMU). His graduate degrees are from Cornell University (M.A.) and Carnegie Mellon University (M.S. in Systems Science, and Ph.D. in Industrial Administration). Dr. Kauffman’s research has focused on technology and strategy, the economics of IT, financial services and technology, managerial decision-making, sustainability economics, and e-commerce. He previously served in the as Associate Dean (Faculty) and Associate Dean (Research), and Chair of the IS and Management Area at SMU’s School of Information Systems. He was also the W.P. Carey Chair in IS at Arizona State University, and Professor and Director of the MIS Research Center at the Carlson School of Management of the University of Minnesota. He was also a researcher and faculty member at the Economics Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the Simon Graduate School of Management at the University of Rochester, the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, and the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. His work has appeared in Organization Science, Management Science, Review of Economics and Statistics, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, and MIS Quarterly, among many others. He has won multiple awards for his field research contribution and research from professional associations for IS, Engineering Management, and Management Science.

Thomas A. Weber ([email protected]) is Professor of Operations, Economics and Strategy at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. He holds Master’s degrees in Technology and Policy, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Managerial Science from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Weber’s research interests include dynamic systems, optimization, the economics of information and uncertainty, the design of contracts, and strategy. Previously, he was a senior consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, as well as a member of the faculty in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, and a visiting faculty in Economics at Cambridge University and in Mathematics at Moscow State University. He has published over 100 scholarly papers, in such journals such as American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, Economics Letters, Economic Theory, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, Journal of Mathematical Economics, Management Science, Operations Research, and many others. He is the author of Optimal Control Theory with Applications in Economics (MIT Press, 2011).

Guest Editors’ Introduction

As the use of information as a productive and tradeable asset becomes more pervasive, its—often unintended—side-effects start showing. This prompts us to systematically recognize these effects and, once identified, to think about how to use them to our advantage or else mitigate them as much as may be economically and/or socially desirable. In this Special Section, we have assembled three research papers, which take a look at different interesting instances of this question, namely in the context of regulating peer-to-peer sharing markets, the substitution of knowledge workers (or their skills) by artificial intelligence (AI), and the difficulties in appropriating rents from information goods that can be pirated by its very consumers.

The deep infusion of information-based innovation into the manufacturing and service sectors of global economies and their electronic markets has continued apace over the past decade, resulting in effects that are both natural and expected. They include: information technology (IT)-induced price adjustments in computer retail [44]; manufacturing productivity and output quality gains [42]; new forms of business-network business-value co-creation [33]; a persistent global disaggregation of information-intensive services [3]; long-anticipated shifts in the boundaries of large and small firms [26]; and flexible, digital supply-chain sourcing in an increasingly borderless world of production and operations management [22]. In addition, we have witnessed changes in inter-firm collaboration via outsourced intermediate production [25] as well as how manufacturing plants [7] have leveraged process outsourcing to enhance their performance compared to their competitors.

Regarding unintended side-effects of the proliferation of information, a major emphasis in recent research has been on fake news, its externalities, and how to mitigate them [17, 35]. Researchers have also recognized that, given the extraordinary extent of fake news on the Internet, some “people believe what they want to believe [even] when it makes no sense at all” [41, p. 143]. The research has grown to encompass many different issues: the groundswell emergence of fake news on IT platforms; how it often spreads faster than real news; its dark-side effects in retail markets; how it can negatively shape consumer opinions about products and citizen views about political elections, and influence the debates on freedom of speech, gender, and racial equity; the selection of government agency, ministry, and judicial appointees; and social perspectives on resource sustainability in the wake of climate change. (See European Parliament [18] for an example.)

There also are Sector-related social-media communication anomalies that have resulted in biased information sharing. For example, there are now information-communication phenomena in financial markets that provide a new basis for irrational exuberance [49] and the paradox of rational irrationality [4, 12]—as well as irrational rationality [36]. An example is the GameStop stock meme on Reddit and the social-media-influenced stock price run-ups and short squeeze in January and February 2022 [45]. Such instances—increasingly observed—are changing the way we view the occasionally false wisdom of crowds, at least in the investment services and financial market context [14]. The conclusion many have drawn is that the abundance of information available today undoubtedly is a powerful force, both positive and negative in its effects, influencing consumer and producer decision-making and the behavioral patterns they exhibit [48]. Simultaneously though, it has affected the theory-based logic of firm-level strategy formulation and our assumptions about what constitutes individual identity, social civility, and collective action [15].

This Special Section of the Journal of Management Information Systems showcases new empirical and theoretical research that informs the thinking and approaches, by academic researchers, industry professionals, and policy makers, toward peer-to-peer markets, machine intelligence, and the difficulties of capturing the value of goods that are entirely based on information. It also considers how to best channel their beneficial effects to create and appropriate value for the firm in services [31] and elsewhere when sector templates define the division of labor, asset complementarities, and factor mobility all support co-specialized production [30]. The research articles we developed for publication demonstrate why Economics and Social Science research on technology impacts is vibrant, insightful, and can even be counterintuitive in its contributions to the information systems (IS) literature. This is true for those of us who are involved in crafting their scientific underpinnings and balancing the rigor of the inquiry with the relevance of what can be learned. Emerging from the new digital ecosystems of technological innovation is the impetus for strategy and technology observers to determine its effects with existing theories, while they seek to move the theoretical foundations of the IS discipline to higher and less explored ground. The articles are intended to offer insights to academics and advice to practitioners in several affected sectors. The empirical findings and theoretical perspectives that the authors present also deliver outcomes that will inform future decisions on sustainably generating rents and welfare from informational assets related to the peer-to-peer sharing economy, the substitution of knowledge workers by AI, and the selling of information goods in the presence of piracy.

Note

1.

For additional details, see von Briel and Dolnicar [56].

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

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