Chapter 19: Artificial intelligence as a mechanism of algorithmic isomorphism
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Emerging technologies equipped with artificial intelligence are improving in their capability to autonomously make decisions on behalf of people within organizations. We argue that organizations’ implementation of these AI technologies may perpetuate a new mechanism of isomorphism, through which organizational members’ work practices may become increasingly similar over time, which we call algorithmic isomorphism. Unlike mechanisms of isomorphism that depend on knowledgeable actors’ responses to the institutional field, algorithmic isomorphism occurs as AI technologies implement patterns optimized for specific outcomes as gleaned from aggregated data across time and space. In this chapter, we draw on organizational theory in the areas of institutional isomorphism, structuration, and organizational change to theorize the change in practices that the use of AI technologies to autonomously make organizational decisions can contrive. We present an illustrative example of algorithmic isomorphism from our research on AI scheduling technologies and discuss the theoretical, practical, and methodological implications of our argument.

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