Overview

Stanford’s Department of Management Science & Engineering founded the Center for Work, Technology & Organization (WTO) in 1996 to promote research on work and work practices in organizations. Professors Stephen Barley and Robert Sutton served as the founding co-directors; now Barley co-directs the center with Professor Pamela Hinds. WTO is the only university-based research center in the United States dedicated to studying work and its interplay with organizations and technologies.

As contemporary society moves away from its industrial roots, we seem to know less and less about the work that people do. Consequently, we lack information that is crucial for debating and addressing the challenges posed by a post-industrial economy. The Center for Work, Technology & Organization aims to help fill this gap in our theoretical and applied knowledge.

Our mission revolves around three core components:

  • To generate, synthesize, and compile knowledge on the relationships between work, technology, and organization.
  • To disseminate and augment basic knowledge and theory by developing educational programs on work and technology and by assisting organizations in solving problems related to WTO’s expertise.
  • To build an extended intellectual community of people from academia, industry and government who are concerned with issues of work and technology. By crystallizing such a network of inquirers, WTO hopes to create an understanding of work practices that could not otherwise be achieved.

Research conducted within WTO features concern for work, mainly in technical settings, and considers the organizational issues implicated at the intersection of work and technology. Research projects include investigations such as how the engineering profession is being transformed by digitization and the globalization of work, collaboration and dynamics in globally distributed work teams, the effects of communication technologies on constructing availability, and human-robot interaction in the workplace.

We encourage you to browse our website and email us if you have questions or want more information about WTO.