Data as an Object of Social Inquiry: Implications for Social Practice and Organizations
- Jannis Kallinikos
- Cristina Alaimo
- Luiss University
Data are no longer simply a component of administrative and managerial work but a pervasive resource and medium through which organizations come to know and act upon the contingencies they confront. We theorize how the ongoing technological developments reinforce the traditional functions of data as instruments of management and control but also reframe and extend their role.
By rendering data as technical entities, digital technologies transform the process of knowing and the knowledge functions data fulfil in socioeconomic life.
These functions are most of the times mediated by putting together disperse and steadily updatable data in more stable entities we refer to as data objects. Users, customers, products, and physical machines rendered as data objects become the technical and cognitive means through which organizational knowledge, patterns, and practices develop.
Such conditions loosen the dependence of data from domain knowledge, reorder the relative significance of internal versus external references in organizations, and contribute to a paradigmatic contemporary development that we identify with the decentering of organizations of which digital platforms are an important specimen.