Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 1 2022 pp. 1-5

Editorial Introduction

Zwass, Vladimir

The two papers opening this 39th volume of Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS) investigate the profound change that digitalization brings to people working in organizations and thus to the organizations themselves. As the research in our Information Systems (IS) discipline has been addressing the aggregate organizational capabilities and outcomes, it is equally vital to look at the relationship between the workers and their computerized workplaces. This is where the rubber hits the road and there are complicated contingencies in this continuing and evolving encounter. Over half a century ago, before our field was formed, it was foreseen by a far-seeing scholar that the relationship between a person and a computer will become a symbiotic one and will enable them “to cooperate in making decisions and controlling complex situations without inflexible dependence on predetermined programs” [4, p. 4]. Considering how people work in the environment of machine-learning based systems, this statement was nothing short of prophetic. The mutualistic symbiosis of humans with their smartphone ecosystems is readily apparent. In these dynamics, values can be imputed to some of the human cognitive skills. Certain skills become devalued in this symbiosis, including memorization and calculation. The use of organizational IS has also invoked a recently more nuanced understanding of symbiotic processes. The mutual adjustment of people and technology (with the originating and continuing human agency in the latter), conditions the nature of jobs and the value of human endeavors, as investigated in the papers you will read in this issue.

The first of the papers, authored by Viswanath Venkatesh and Sandeep Goyal, shows the complexity and dynamism of the post-implementation effects of enterprise systems (ES) on the job outcomes of adopting firm’s employees. Delving beyond the current understanding of these effects, the researchers’ theorizing and empirical data show a sharp discontinuity in the influence that a new ES can have on the scope and nature of jobs and, consequently, on job performance and employee satisfaction. The research surfaces on post-implementation contingencies that impact the outcomes of ES infusion into a firm and, thus, can inform the practice of large firms’ implementation of organizational information systems beyond its contribution to theory.

Erik Brynjolfsson, Meng Liu, and George Westerman make an important contribution to our broad understanding of the ever-deepening person-computer symbiosis in organizational settings. Worker persistence, understood as the enacted ability to focus of on task over a long period of time, was traditionally valued in the job marketplace. Computerized systems are remarkably persistent. What happens to the value of the worker’s persistence in the presence of computerized systems? Using a large longitudinal sample and the tools of econometrics, the researchers find that the wage premium for human persistence in routine jobs falls in the presence of computerization. This effect is not seen with respect to non-routine jobs. Beyond the immediate results, this work generates a research agenda for a granular and broad investigation of the work-marketplace effects of the human-computer coexistence.

Over a number of recent years, our field has contributed to the research and practice domain of InfoHealth. The next article deals with the potential effects of mobile games on mental health. The games deployed are location-based mobile games, exemplified by Pokémon Go, and characterized by the gaming experience based on the player’s location. Zhi (Aaron) Cheng, Brad N. Greenwood, and Paul A. Pavlou present their research, theoretically grounded and extensively documented with empirical data. Based on the statistics of queries in localized online searches, the authors find salutary effects of these mobile games on the mental health of individual suffering from non-clinical depression. The authors take advantage of the staggered release of the game over a large population that allows them to use individuals’ search data and Google Trends to see the effects of the games within different populations. The work is an excellent step in supporting the anecdotal notions of the positive effects of mobile games on mental health. As it turns out, they are fun and they are good for you—and for the society. This work is also generative in its combination of the subject and methodology toward a societally worthy objective. Studying the effects of an exemplar of augmented reality, this investigation augurs our future research on the effects of living in a metaverse.

Virtual teams (VT) are a large part of the present and future reality of work. Although the pandemic has significantly affected the transition to this mode of collective work, such teams are not just an epiphenomenon of the COVID-19, much as the disease has affected their ubiquity. Therefore, the study of the teams’ composition repays in creating organizational value. In their paper, Alexander S. Dennis, Jordan B. Barlow, and Alan R. Dennis study VT using text-based computer-mediated communication systems and focus on the effects of personality traits and intelligence of the team members, taken in the aggregate. Among other findings, the researchers show convincingly that a high mean extraversion has a large negative effect on task performance. This certainly informs team managers. This result also explains notable divergencies in the published research addressing VT. Future contributions will further analyze the good and the bad of the make-up of VT in terms of the aggregate personality traits of their members. Large companies have hundreds of VT operating at any time and a close study of the fitting personality types will repay in enhanced performance.

Two papers employ formal analytical methods to contribute to the economics of IS. In the first paper, Ping Xiao, Yuanyuan Chen, Anandhi Bharadwaj, and Weining Bao investigate the effect of information nudges on the behavior and the consequent welfare of the consumers of digital services, such as mobile communications. Consumers generally do not track their usage; by focusing their attention on their usage status, nudges can help them make proper decisions. Payment tariffs in many digital services, including cloud computing, consist of fixed and semifixed fees, as well as over-usage charges. The model differentiates between different types of nudges and different preferences of consumer segments. The analytical results are backed up by the outcomes gained from a natural experiment in the domain of mobile data usage. Yes, nudging is effective, with specified contingencies. As our attention is claimed by the surfeit of information, the tools of behavioral economics contribute to our understanding of nudging and to the practicalities of the provision of digital services so popular today.

In the next formal paper, Jingchuan Pu, Tingting Nian, Liangfei Qiu, and Hsing Kenneth Cheng model the effects of deception in online platform selling in the form of quality misrepresentation by deceptive sellers causing fake reviews, fake sales volumes, and fake social media posts to appear online. Among other means, competitors can gain access to the email addresses of other firms via the apps provided by platforms and use them for deception, as was recently the case with a top selling platform [2]. Misrepresentation is cheap; the platforms are intermediaries and want to raise the volume of sales while also wishing to maintain their reputation for probity. The authors’ modeling allows them to answer a number of questions. Under what market conditions will competing sellers choose to misrepresent? What is the impact of misrepresentation on the competing sellers and the platform? How can platform strategies counteract misrepresentation? The study contributes significantly to the research streams addressing digital deception and platform marketplaces, as well as offering practical implications for platform policies.

IT-caused interruptions of work divert users’ attention and interfere with their activities. The effects of single interruptions have been analyzed in the existing literature. Regrettably, the interruptions are repeated in many cases. Repeated interruption has its own pattern of effects compared to a single such event, as shown empirically by Christoph Weinert, Christian Maier, Sven Laumer, and Tim Wetzel in the next paper of this issue. Over time, the users may either become habituated to these or increasingly more sensitized; this dichotomy is captured by the dual-process theory of repeated stimuli. Departing from this foundation, the researchers develop their particular theoretical basis and conduct laboratory experiments to test the hypotheses composing it. There emerges a nuanced picture of the longitudinal effects of repeated IT-caused work interruptions in terms of user arousal and exhaustion. Notably the effect on the task performance is shown as well.

Crowdsourcing has taken a durable place in engaging a great variety of people in a great variety of tasks. A naturally emergent special section of three papers that concludes the issue is devoted to several aspects of this phenomenon. In the first of this, HanByeol Stella Choi, Wonseok Oh, Chanhee Kwak, Junyeong Lee, and Heeseok Lee study the influence of “crowds” (in these case, other reviewers on a large website) on the focus reviewers. Owing to the nature of the site—an apparel rental firm—and the design of review forms, there are extensive opportunities for self-disclosure in reviews. Couched in the social norms theory, the authors investigate the social factors that lead to self-disclosure. Self-disclosure in reviews is known to lead, in turn, to their greater helpfulness as established by prior research [3, 4], and as the focus consumers are more highly influenced by the self-disclosure of others in their own reviews, they also tend to mimetically self-disclose. The imputed and nuanced role of the ambient “crowds” is another form of crowdsourcing—in this paper, the crowdsourcing of influence.

One of the well-established uses of crowdsourcing is problem solving, where a task is offered for solution by an open call to a more or less preselected aggregate of potential solvers. Single solvers are not often enough. More complex tasks require that virtual teams be formed spontaneously on a platform, such as Kaggle. The platforms support the self-organization of virtual solver teams by ranking the solvers in various ways. In incentivizing the best individuals to do their best in such efforts, a competition can help. Known as idea competitions [1], this competition is often enacted in the format of tournaments. Here, Fang Cao, Weiquan Wang, Eric Lim, Xinmei Liu, and Chee-Wee Tan take a close look at the prerequisites to the team performance in such competitions in relation to the participants’ rank (activeness) and tier (performance) as solvers. Social-dominance fault lines emerge from the different combinations of differently-ranked team members. The authors ask and empirically investigate the effects of such fault lines on team performance. Notably, social fault lines investigated here are different from the traditionally researched ones, such as geography or demographic differences among the participants. Several aspects need to be noted. The platform’s capability to dynamically maintain a set of relevant attributes of solvers with respect to others enables formation of effective teams. The competitive aspect leads to an enhanced performance. Crowd voting attracts participation [1]. This research echoes the work of Dennis, Barlow, and Dennis in this issue, whose advice can synergistically help to form effective virtual teams.

Crowdsourcing of funds, known as crowdfunding, has firmly established itself online. In particular, reward-based crowdfunding by entrepreneurs is supported by well-attended platforms, such as Kickstarter and others. In the next paper, Ta-Wei (Daniel) Kao, Shih-Hui (Steven) Hsiao, Hung-Chung Su, and Chih-Hao (Justin) Ku investigate the influence of a fundraising network on the effectiveness of a fundraising campaign. The authors show that as the campaign progresses, the social capital embodied in the aggregate of the participating funders plays a significant role in the effectiveness of the campaign. We can see here an analogue to venture financing in the offline world: As a venture-capital campaign progresses, for example, its effectiveness depends on engaging the people who can count in influencing others to participate. The online tools of the platform should support the construction of the effective fundraising network.

Taken together, the three concluding papers of the issue, vividly demonstrate how the open access with mass participation, supported by the information and tools furnished on the Web platforms, has changed the way the markets work, and financing can be conducted with the increasing role of a collective formation and of collective action. The emerging collectives may be expected to further leverage the aggregating facilities of the Web as the financial rewards can now and in the future be rendered over the Ethereum-type blockchains, with the long-term dynamic contracts embedded in the code of their nodes. The products of the collectives, such as problem solutions, software, or art can bear lasting dynamic rewards. Further changes in the way work is done, organized, and rewarded are in the offing. Our IS research field has the mandate to investigate the present and help design the future of this transformation. As I pointed out earlier, it is important to explore the distribution of economic value among the agents in various types of co-creation activities. The issues of distributional justice are likely to arise and require follow-up studies [5]. The means of distributed finance are becoming more readily available for the task. The papers published in this issue of JMIS demonstrate how important it is for our field to be grounded in analyzing the present of the deployment of IT for the benefit of individuals, organizations, and societies, and to map out the road to their future.