Organizational Ignorance: An Ethnographic Study of High-frequency Trading

Ann-Christina Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

170 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper provides an analysis of strategic uses of ignorance or not-knowing in one of the most secretive industries within the financial sector. The focus of the paper is on the relation between imitation and ignorance within the organizational structure of high-frequency trading (HFT) firms. In social studies of finance (SSF) literature imitation is considered a strategic act, i.e. imitation is a term applied when traders copy the strategies of other traders. I wish to turn this relation between ignorance and imitation on its head and consider ignorance itself as a strategic unknown and investigate the kinds of imitations that might be produced from structures of not-knowing (i.e. structures intended to divide, obscure and protect knowledge). This point is illustrated through ethnographic studies and interviews within five HFT firms. The data show how a black-box structure of ignorance is replicated within the organizational setting of these firms and re-enacted by the traders. Towards the end of the paper the politics of the relationship between imitation and ignorance is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomy and Society
Volume45
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)230-250
ISSN0308-5147
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Black box
  • High-frequency trading
  • Ignorance
  • Imitation
  • Organizational structure
  • Social studies of finance

Cite this

Lange, Ann-Christina. / Organizational Ignorance : An Ethnographic Study of High-frequency Trading. In: Economy and Society. 2016 ; Vol. 45, No. 2. pp. 230-250.
@article{9d9f11f88f60499aac7c58fc603f51ee,
title = "Organizational Ignorance: An Ethnographic Study of High-frequency Trading",
abstract = "This paper provides an analysis of strategic uses of ignorance or not-knowing in one of the most secretive industries within the financial sector. The focus of the paper is on the relation between imitation and ignorance within the organizational structure of high-frequency trading (HFT) firms. In social studies of finance (SSF) literature imitation is considered a strategic act, i.e. imitation is a term applied when traders copy the strategies of other traders. I wish to turn this relation between ignorance and imitation on its head and consider ignorance itself as a strategic unknown and investigate the kinds of imitations that might be produced from structures of not-knowing (i.e. structures intended to divide, obscure and protect knowledge). This point is illustrated through ethnographic studies and interviews within five HFT firms. The data show how a black-box structure of ignorance is replicated within the organizational setting of these firms and re-enacted by the traders. Towards the end of the paper the politics of the relationship between imitation and ignorance is discussed.",
keywords = "Black box, High-frequency trading, Ignorance, Imitation, Organizational structure, Social studies of finance, Black box, High-frequency trading, Ignorance, Imitation, Organizational structure, Social studies of finance",
author = "Ann-Christina Lange",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1080/03085147.2016.1220665",
language = "English",
volume = "45",
pages = "230--250",
journal = "Economy and Society",
issn = "0308-5147",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

Organizational Ignorance : An Ethnographic Study of High-frequency Trading. / Lange, Ann-Christina.

In: Economy and Society, Vol. 45, No. 2, 2016, p. 230-250.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Organizational Ignorance

T2 - An Ethnographic Study of High-frequency Trading

AU - Lange, Ann-Christina

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - This paper provides an analysis of strategic uses of ignorance or not-knowing in one of the most secretive industries within the financial sector. The focus of the paper is on the relation between imitation and ignorance within the organizational structure of high-frequency trading (HFT) firms. In social studies of finance (SSF) literature imitation is considered a strategic act, i.e. imitation is a term applied when traders copy the strategies of other traders. I wish to turn this relation between ignorance and imitation on its head and consider ignorance itself as a strategic unknown and investigate the kinds of imitations that might be produced from structures of not-knowing (i.e. structures intended to divide, obscure and protect knowledge). This point is illustrated through ethnographic studies and interviews within five HFT firms. The data show how a black-box structure of ignorance is replicated within the organizational setting of these firms and re-enacted by the traders. Towards the end of the paper the politics of the relationship between imitation and ignorance is discussed.

AB - This paper provides an analysis of strategic uses of ignorance or not-knowing in one of the most secretive industries within the financial sector. The focus of the paper is on the relation between imitation and ignorance within the organizational structure of high-frequency trading (HFT) firms. In social studies of finance (SSF) literature imitation is considered a strategic act, i.e. imitation is a term applied when traders copy the strategies of other traders. I wish to turn this relation between ignorance and imitation on its head and consider ignorance itself as a strategic unknown and investigate the kinds of imitations that might be produced from structures of not-knowing (i.e. structures intended to divide, obscure and protect knowledge). This point is illustrated through ethnographic studies and interviews within five HFT firms. The data show how a black-box structure of ignorance is replicated within the organizational setting of these firms and re-enacted by the traders. Towards the end of the paper the politics of the relationship between imitation and ignorance is discussed.

KW - Black box

KW - High-frequency trading

KW - Ignorance

KW - Imitation

KW - Organizational structure

KW - Social studies of finance

KW - Black box

KW - High-frequency trading

KW - Ignorance

KW - Imitation

KW - Organizational structure

KW - Social studies of finance

UR - https://sfx-45cbs.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/45cbs?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&url_ctx_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF-8&ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&rfr_id=info:sid/sfxit.com:azlist&sfx.ignore_date_threshold=1&rft.object_id=954925269344&rft.object_portfolio_id=&svc.holdings=yes&svc.fulltext=yes

U2 - 10.1080/03085147.2016.1220665

DO - 10.1080/03085147.2016.1220665

M3 - Journal article

VL - 45

SP - 230

EP - 250

JO - Economy and Society

JF - Economy and Society

SN - 0308-5147

IS - 2

ER -