Reconsidering the Socio-Technical Perspective under the Sway of Technological Individualization in Knowledge-Work Settings

Publikation: Bog / Antologi / Rapport / Ph.D.-afhandlingPh.d.-afhandling


A key question in information systems (IS) research is how to improve knowledge work in
organizational structures supported by information technology. Often a socio-technical perspective
is used. This perspective focuses on groups sharing the same task, technology and working
conditions. It is assumed that a work system will be established, based on concerted behavior,
norms and technology utilization. It is said that an effective socio-technical system meets both
humanistic and economic goals when the social subsystem and the technical subsystem rest in a
stable equilibrium. Planning and explaining socio-technical changes at the digital workplace have
become increasingly difficult. Difficulties that arise due to the changing character of work, new
technological possibilities and patterns of use as well as ongoing organizational changes. This
dissertation presents a perspective that relates to the behavioral mechanisms of individualization,
socialization and institutionalization through several studies of how these mechanisms are
activated by different types of technology. In particular, SMC technology (malleable social, mobile
and cloud-based communication and collaboration applications) provides new and much more
individualized behavior, where the individual employee increasingly takes control of time, pace,
place, information flows and social relationships in the part of the work, that is non-routine.
Fixed workgroups and physical placement are increasingly complemented by fluid, personal
and virtual networks. The stable structures and shared routines, are likewise complemented by
unstable formations of individually variable routines. Institutionalization and socialization at the
workplace are thus increasingly being challenged and replaced by the forces from individualization.
Balancing these often opposing movements is difficult and often ends in situations where work
becomes either too individualized or too institutionalized. We therefore propose a socio-technical
perspective that operates on two levels: the individually technical and social-technical and where
the behavioral mechanisms are activated in a mutual regulation. This perspective covers how
stability and agilility, the social and individual and the standardized and malleable can support and
enable each other in an interactive relationship that results in robust and elastic work structures
that are both humanistic and effective. We call this the dual IS, which significantly changes how
we explain socio-technical changes. We therefore suggest that in the modern workplace one
should be more aware of how individualization, institutionalization and socialization can interact.
For this we have developed a socio-technical explanatory model that can be used to plan and
explain socio-technical changes.
ForlagIT-Universitetet i København
Antal sider166
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7949-014-7
StatusUdgivet - 2018


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