Organizations | Technology | Workplace

The proliferation of smart devices, cloud-based computing, ubiquitous internet, and large-scale data extraction are reshaping competitive conditions in diverse industries.  My goal is to demonstrate the far-reaching effects of these shifts as they extend beyond the domain of the the 'digital economy' in advanced industrialized regions. I focus on the restructuring of India's software industry: the technological, organizational, and labor-related aspects of an ongoing transformation.

 

Since the 1990s, vast workforces in India manage the information- technology (IT) systems of North American and European companies. A mere 15 years after its expansion, this offshore industry has entered a period of intense upheaval. This industry, given its dense ties to Fortune 500 firms, provides a window into the changing character of the technology systems, as well as the cascading effect this has on offshore economies.

 
Specifically, I focus on how cloud platforms (owned by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) precipitate a rupture in the software industry and threaten the organizational structures and work processes of offshore IT firms. I examine how cloud-enabled IT alters existing arrangements between large western corporations and their software providers in India. My analysis of this rupture is based on in-depth fieldwork conducted 

between 2014-2018, when I interviewed and interacted with corporate executives, middle managers, coders, trade analysts, and members of new IT worker unions.

 

I anchor this project in emerging debates on platform capitalism as well as long standing debates on industrial and organizational change

Publications:

Narayan, Devika. 2017. “Decoding Disruption: Layoffs in the software industry.” Economic and Political Weekly 52 (22): 16–19.

Under review/in preparation

Narayan, Devika. 2020. “The Autophagic Imperative: How IT firms cannibalize themselves.” Under review.

Narayan, Devika. 2020. “Seeing Like a Manager, Feeling Like a Worker: The contradictions of managerial layoffs.” Manuscript available.  

Narayan, Devika. 2020 “Asset-Light Computing and the New World of Offshore Labor.” In progress.

 

Narayan, Devika. 2020. “Theorizing New Platform Infrastructures.” In progress.

Finance Capital | Speculation | Urban Studies 

Another strand of my research focuses on financialization. Over the last few decades the rise of finance capital has altered the structure of the economy, infusing into it new managerial practices and business logics. I am involved with an NSF-funded interdisciplinary, collaborative project that investigates speculative capital and the urban transformation in India. In this context I study how the dynamics of speculative capital alter urban landscapes and industrial processes alike. Specifically, I focus on real estate and urban infrastructure, as well as the the role of venture capital in structuring the technology sector. My research on the real estate sector in India examines the influx of global private equity and the distinct business practices that are activated.

 

Supported by a International Waters Network Fellowship, I also undertook a research project that examined fragile water infrastructures and

trajectories of urbanization in India. 

 

Publications: 

 

Goldman, Michael, and Narayan, Devika. 2019. “Water Crisis through the Analytic of Urban Transformation: An analysis of bangalore’s hydrosocial regimes.” Water International 44 (2): 95–114.

Goldman, Michael, and Narayan, Devika. 2020. “Water Crisis through the Analytic of Urban Transformation.” In Rural–Urban Water Struggles: Urbanizing hydrosocial territories and evolving connections, discourses and identities, Eds. Hommes, Lenna., Boelens, Rutgerd., Harris, Leila, M., & Veldwisch, Gert, V. (New York: Routledge), 15-35.

Policy brief: 

Narayan, Devika and Anuradha Sajjanhar. 2019. “A Study of Bangalore’s Water Crisis: Key findings and policy suggestions.” International Waters Network.

Under review: 

Goldman, Michael and Narayan Devika. 2020. “Speculating in the Urban-Financial conjuncture: Real estate’s tryst with global finance in India.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 

Photo Credit: Devika Narayan 2018
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© 2018 Devika Narayan