UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Katharina Cepa from Lancaster University and Henri Schildt from Aalto University to host a research seminar discussing ‘Engineering collaboration with digital data’.
The real-time data transfer between collaborating companies allows them to represent and control activities across firm boundaries. Digital technologies do not merely provide new collaborative benefits, but provide firms new ways to organise their collaborative efforts. We conducted an inductive multiple case study of five long-term relationships to study the effects of data-intensive technologies on the organisation and management of collaborative relationships in industrial companies, attending specifically to structural tensions that are ubiquitous to collaboration. Our analysis shows how the delegation of digital activities into specialised digital units fostered data-driven mindsets and data-driven interactions that together constituted holistic data-induced rationalities for managing the relationships. Together the compartmentalisation of digital collaboration and the data-induced rationalities turned these units into “unitary spaces,” organisational enclosures where structural tensions and competing demands were temporarily suspended to foster single-minded pursuit of collaborative short-term benefits for the partner company.