Struggling with Empowerment and Modernization
Chapter 3: Technology and user empowerment
The search for alternative and progressive forms of organization has been heavily influenced by reflections upon the nature and role of work technology. Since the Tavistock mining studies (Trist and Bamforth, 1951; Trist et al., 1963), researchers have been acutely aware that there are choices to be made about the organization of human activity around a given technology (Benders et al., 2006). Rejecting the fatalistic argument that technology strictly determines the conduct and experience of work, enthusiasts have claimed space for humanization, even around Fordist technologies, as the previous chapter indicated. By the late 1970s, however, this sense of choice and capacity for influence had developed to include the design and shaping of the technology itself, as opposed to job (re)design after the fact of its creation. Socio-technical systems theorists were again at the forefront of research and activism. Indeed, it is possible to discern a second wave of interest in the principles of socio-technical design as debates around the development and deployment of computer and communications technology progressed through the 1980s (Beirne and Ramsay, 1988). With the growing realization that organizations faced problems in harnessing the most sophisticated technology, critical accounts of rationalistic tendencies and influences on the workplace resurfaced (Mowshowitz, 1980; Briefs et al., 1983). Perceptive authors realized that organizational problems were constraining technological innovation, and that this offered new opportunities, access to a new area, and a means of taking the reform message to an important category of professional actors, technologists and computing scientists (Mumford, 1983, 2003).
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.