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MIT CISR 2020 Research Projects

WHAT vs. HOW: Governance for Aligned Autonomy

Digital Work

Companies are increasingly depending on empowered teams to deal with the accelerated pace of the digital era, yet leaders are finding that this new way of organizing is challenging in terms of coordination and end-to-end integration of company offerings. This year, we will investigate the effectiveness of governance mechanisms that redefine authority and accountability to ensure coherent decision making in complex organizational contexts. The research will consist of a survey of senior executives and case studies of companies that pursue empowerment as an enterprise-wide reality.

Research questions include:

  • How can companies foster an environment in which teams successfully distribute ownership of key decisions?
  • What governance mechanisms work to enhance organizational alignment while minimally limiting team autonomy?
  • What are effective resource allocation mechanisms (particularly in terms of funding and expertise) to support empowered teams?

Seeking: Survey respondents and interviewees from companies that are working to successfully align the efforts of their empowered teams.

Contact: Nick van der Meulen


Nick van der Meulen, Research Scientist

Nick’s work centers on how companies need to organize themselves differently in the face of continuous technological change. Nick is passionate about separating hype from reality using quantitative data, while also studying the complexity of business practice through in-depth case studies.

Peter Weill, Chairman and Senior Research Scientist

Peter’s work centers on the role, value, and governance of digitization in enterprises and their ecosystems. Peter’s current responsibilities include the globalization of MIT CISR’s research and sponsorship base and engagement with senior executive teams.

Stephanie L. Woerner, Director and Principal Research Scientist

Stephanie’s work focuses on how enterprises use technology and data to create more effective business models and how they manage the associated organizational change. She has a passion for measuring hard-to-assess digital factors and linking them to firm performance.

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Center for Information Systems Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management
245 First Street, E94-15th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142