Seminar with David Stark (Columbia University) on Algorithmic Management and New Class Relations

Wednesday, January 31, 2024 - 10:00 to 11:30

David Stark, Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology at Columbia University

Sine Nørholm Just is a professor of strategic communication at the Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University and the principal investigator of the ADD (Algoritms, data & democracy) -project

Pedro Monteiro, assistant professor, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School

José Ossandón, Associate professor, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School

Registration for the lecture is necessary, and you can sign up here

Questions to José Ossandón,

Title of the paper
Algorithmic Management and New Class Relations

The turn of the 20th Century saw the emergence of a new knowledge class, pioneered by mechanical engineers championing a movement known as Scientific Management. In the opening decades of the 21st Century we find the emergence of a new segment of the knowledge class, making new knowledge claims.  At its forefront we also find engineers, but these are software engineers championing Algorithmic Management. In this paper, I argue that the dichotomous class terms of capital and labor are inadequate to understand the new class configurations. Algorithmic management should not be understood as an an extension or updating of scientific management – Taylorism on steroids, as some have argued. Whereas scientific management sees humans as programmable, algorithmic management sees machines as capable of learning. I argue that it operates within a different organizational form, articulates a different ideology, and promotes a different principle of legitimation along different lines of accountability. To identify what is distinctive about algorithmic management, I elaborate a systematic comparison with scientific management from the early 20th Century and collaborative management at the century’s end. Instead of technologies as a new medium of communication, I examine algorithmic practices in which technologies are themselves the communication partners.

David Stark is Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology at Columbia University where he directs the Center on Organizational Innovation. A major figure in the field of economic sociology, he uses a broad variety of research methods – ethnographic, network analytic, and experimental – to study processes of valuation and innovation. He has studied factory workers in socialist Hungary, new media employees in a Silicon Alley startup, derivative traders on Wall Street, electronic music artists in Berlin, bankers in Budapest, farmers in Nebraska, video game producers, and megachurches that look like shopping malls.

In his book, The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life (Princeton University Press, 2011), Stark shows how organizations and their members search for what is valuable. Dissonance – disagreement about the principles of worth – can lead to discovery. Postsocialist Pathways (with Laszlo Bruszt, Cambridge U Press, 1998) compares the different ways in which the societies of East Central Europe dealt with the challenge of simultaneously transforming property rights and citizenship rights. In an oft-cited article, “Recombinant Property in East European Capitalism,” (American Journal of Sociology 1996) he argues that capitalism in Eastern Europe was not built on the ruins of communism but with the ruins of communism.

Stark recently completed a major research project on Diversity and Performance: Networks of Cognition in Markets and Teams supported by a five-year Advanced career Award from the European Research Council. Recent publications include “Racial Attention Deficit” (Science Advances 2021), “Put to the Test: For a New Sociology of Testing” (British Journal of Sociology 2020), and The Performance Complex: Competition and Competitions in Social Life (Oxford University Press 2020). His current research project: Algorithmic Management and New Class Conflicts.

He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2002 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the École normale supérieure de Cachan in 2013. Stark has been a visiting fellow at numerous institutes including: Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto; Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne;  the Russell Sage Foundation; Collegium Budapest; and the Institute for Advanced Study in Hangzhou, China.

Stark’s edited collection, Practicing Sociology: Tacit Knowledge for the Sociological Craft, is in press at Columbia University Press. Many of his articles, books, presentations, “silent lectures,” and other materials are available at

Copenhagen Business School
Kilevej 14A,
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Last registration: Monday 29 January 2024 via link

The page was last edited by: Department of Organization // 01/16/2024