Organizations | Technology | Work

The proliferation of networked devices, cloud-based computing, ubiquitous internet, and large-scale data extraction reshapes competitive conditions in diverse industries.  My work examines industrial change and workplace restructuring in the face of technological shifts. I am particularly interested in management practices with regard to competitive strategy and employee layoffs. Along with the restructuring of established large firms, I also examine the rise of a new corporate form: the platform company. 

I extend the purview of analysis beyond what is typically regarded as 'the digital economy,'  and do so by using the case of the transnational IT industry - of which India represents a key node. 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. My dissertation focuses on the technological, organizational, and labor-related aspects of an ongoing transformation. 

 
Cloud platforms (owned by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) precipitated 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 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.

Manuscript in Progress

Narayan, Devika. 2020. “The Structural Liminality of Disposable Managers:

An Analysis of Precarity.” revise & resubmit. 

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

Narayan, Devika. 2020. “Theorizing New Platform Infrastructures.” under review.

Narayan, Devika. “From Products to Platforms: Revisiting the Rise of an Offshore Industry.” in progress.

Narayan, Devika. 2020 “Asset-Light Computing and the New World of Offshore Labor.” 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 global 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 urban transformation in the 'emerging economies' of the global south. Specifically, I study private equity, 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 transformation of property markets. 

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. 2020. “Through the optics of finance: Speculative urbanism and the transformation of markets.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Forthcoming. 

 

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. 

Photo Credit: Devika Narayan 2018

© 2018 Devika Narayan