Sunday, March 14, 2004 / Business / Personal finance / MIT professor sees far-flung future workplace / Business / Personal finance / MIT professor sees far-flung future workplace "In the future, high-tech and knowledge-based businesses will be run as loose hierarchies or self-managed democracies. Skilled workers will organize, disband, and regroup around different assembly projects, much as film and construction workers do today. Even the systems of cars will be designed by competing teams of freelancers, giving automakers a choice of, say, fuel cells or solar cells.
Such is the vision of organization theorist Thomas W. Malone, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management. In a book, "The Future of Work," to be published next month, Malone synthesizes two decades of research on how information technologies and cheap communications are shrinking, flattening, and democratizing organizations, and changing the nature of work itself.
Still, the decentralizing trend is gaining momentum, as technologies introduce efficiencies that disrupt existing business operations. "The real story is what technology-augmented decentralization is doing to business and society," said Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie, now the founder and chief executive of Groove Networks Inc. in Beverly. "Fundamentally, the technology is being used to reduce the cost of coordination to get a problem solved.""

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