University of Perugia and St Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy
In the last two decades, management literature has mainly focused on such principles as relentless cost controls, lean and flat organization, continuous re-engineering, and continuous rationalization, and a focus on core knowledge. These principles have paved the way to outsourcing and decentralization processes of activities not deemed core, and have led towards mythical hyper-efficient forms of business organization, such as the virtual corporation.
Relying on a totally different approach, the aim of this chapter is to offer some thoughts as to how systems integration can be developed and maintained. The approach is rooted in the concept of redundancy of knowledge basis. This concept underlines the role and importance for a firm's systems integration capabilities of (a) individuals as bearers of knowledge and (b) organizational contexts as containers that enable individuals to develop their knowledge. Systems integration resides in the capability of vision-construction of change.
The chapter argues that the role of systems integrators and systems integration capability involves the dynamic control (i.e. the ability and power to direct) of technological trajectories of the critical components, parts, subsystems, and, above all, of the trajectory of systems integration itself. The assembler and the activity of assembling are not necessarily involved in the control of the systems integration dynamic. I argue that being a mere assembler, may become unsustainable in those environments that are characterized by multi-technological products or processes comprising many parts and complex interrelated dynamics.
In order to develop the argument, the chapter is structured as follows. In the first section, I offer a definition of the traditional model of individual knowledge which is at the basis of the paradigm of 'efficiency without intelligence', and which is still informing managerial common sense.