Re: [OPE-L] requesting some help

From: Paul Adler (padler@USC.EDU)
Date: Wed Oct 12 2005 - 16:32:36 EDT

Jerry -- By "routinization" Schumpeter meant bureaucratic
rationalization. In this, Schumpeter was greatly influenced by Weber
as well as Marx. The organizational sociology literature inspired by
Weber has several well-established scales for assessing the degree of
bureaucratization of organizational structures, the main ones being
formalization, standardization, centralization, importance of staff
functions, etc.

Moreover in the part of the software industry I focus on (software
services), there is a rather wide-spread assessment tool developed by
the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie-Mellon Univ,: the
Capability Maturity Model. The CMM identifies 5 levels of "maturity"
that map rather easily to degrees of overall

In my paper, I study 2 units at Level 3 (which is considerably more
bureaucratic than the industry average) and 2 units at Level 5 (which
is rather rigorously bureaucratic by any accounting.) Many of my
interviewees had in the past worked in software development
organizations that were considerably less routinized/bureaucratized
(Level 1 and 2). I synthesize their assessments, and use them to
illustrate a theoretical argument in which this routinization is
simultaneously (and contradictorily) a vehicle for socialization and
for valorization.

There are other branches of activity that are more innovative than
this one. But on the scale of innovativeness, software development
businesses like the ones I studied are certainly towards the more
innovative end of the spectrum.

The forms of routinization that I describe are used (altho usually in
less elaborate form) in other innovative branches of activity (the
design of consumer hardware products, industrial equipment, etc.) --
but they are shunned by other innovative branches (notably by folks
who design shrink-wrap software products).

There's a sizable literature on the "conflict" between bureaucracy
and innovation -- but this literature is quite incapable of
accounting for the considerable prevalence and success of
bureaucratic rationalization/routinization that we observe in large
swaths of industry. My paper is a Marxist intervention in that
debate, designed to account for this observed pattern and in process,
show the scientific value of these Marxist concepts...

Does that help?

. At 3:35 PM -0400 10/12/05, glevy@PRATT.EDU wrote:
>  > My paper is framed as a Marxist account  of the routinization of
>>  innovation postulated by Schumpeter. I focus specifically on
>>  software development as it is practiced in large software
>>  services businesses.
>Hi Paul A:
>I'd be interested in knowing what measures you use to calculate
>the degree of routinization.  Also, how do  you know that the
>degree of routinization in large software service businesses is
>typical of the degree in other branches of production?  Are there
>any measures which can be used to compare routinization across
>In solidarity, Jerry

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