What AI will do to corporate hierarchies – Thomas Malone

Thomas W. Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern (1959) Professor of Management, a Professor of Information Technology

From The Wall Street Journal 

Ask people about artificial intelligence, and the discussion will most often turn to jobs: which ones will be eliminated and which ones will be created.

But regardless of what happens to the number of jobs, there’s another question that is less often discussed but crucial for maximizing both productivity and employee morale: How is AI likely to change the structure of business hierarchies themselves?

The obvious answer may be that the management structure is likely to get more centralized and rigid. After all, AI will help managers track more detailed data about everything their subordinates are doing, which should make it easier—and more inviting—to exercise stricter controls.

This will no doubt be true in some cases. But look more closely, and I believe the opposite is much more likely to happen in many cases. That’s because when AI does the routine tasks, much of the remaining nonroutine work is likely to be done in loose “adhocracies,” ever-shifting groups of people with the combinations of skills needed for whatever problems arise.

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