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(3) IT and Work

Aims and objectives

This section will deal with working in the information society and the effect of the "information revolution" on work. You might like to look at New Technologies in the Workplace: Approaching the Virtual Office by Natalie Zee which looks forward to the office of 2010 and The Network Nation Revisited to see which predictions about the changes in office work from the recent past (1978) actually materialized (by 1994).

The aim of this section of the course is to critically evaluate the relationship between the "Information Revolution" and the changing nature of work. This section of the course will lead on to the next topic - a discussion of technological determinism and social choice.


Building on the material in Topic 2 the following areas will be covered in the lectures:

  1. What effects might be directly attributable to the use of computer technology.
  2. What effects might be only indirectly related to the use of computer technology.
  3. Where are the effects of the "Information Revolution" most apparent?
  4. What are its implications for society and its institutions?

We will begin with review of the idealized concept of pre-industrial work where Work is Life "Work is the inevitable condition of human life, the true source of human welfare." We will then move to industrialized revolution where Work becomes 'a means to an end'. The Worker becomes a unit of labour. The production of goods and services, (e.g. shop/office work) become based on ever narrower set of scientifically formulated actions. Finally we will look at some of the predictions for the nature of work in the Information Society. Will work becomes life again? Will Teleworking mean a return to the rural idyll?

Using material from the lectures, your reading and the web sites your objectives should be to identify:

You should attempt to distinguish between the direct consequences of using a specific form of technology (e.g. RSI and keyboards) and the less direct effects of the "information revolution". You also should consider to what extent the wider changes associated with the "information revolution" are directly attributable to technological change and to what extent they are the result of social and economic changes. Finally you should consider the possible futures of work: teleworking, the virtual organization, perhaps even the abolition of work.




  1. IT(1) - Information Technology: Social Issues - A Reader, Ed. Finnegan. R, Salaman. G and Thompson. K., The Open University/Hodder and Stoughton., 1994.
  2. IT(2) - Information Technology and Society: A Reader, Ed Heap. N., Thomas. R., Einon. G. and MacKay. H., The Open University/Sage, 1994.
  3. CE - Computer Ethics. Forrester. T. and Morrison. P. Basil Blackwell, 1994.
  4. SIC - Social Issues in Computing, Huff. C and Finholt. T, McGraw Hill, 1994.
  5. PandC - People and Chips: Human Implications of Information Technology, Rowe. C and Thompson. J, Mcgraw Hill, 1996
  6. GoF - A Gift of Fire, Base. S., Prentice Hall, 1997.

Some Additional Reading (in library)

  1. Applegate. L.M., Cash. J.I. and Quinn-Mills. D. Information Technology and Tomorrow's Manager. Harvard Business Review, November - December, 1988, pp. 128 - 136.
  2. Drucker. P. The New Society of Organizations, Harvard Business Review, September - October, 1992, pp. 95 - 104.
  3. Kimble. C. and McLoughlin. K. Computer Based Information Systems and Managers Work. New Technology, Work and Employment, March, 1995. pp. 56 - 67.
  4. Markus. M.L. Finding a happy Medium: Explaining the Negative Effects of Electronic Communication on Social Life at Work. Communications of the ACM Transactions on Information Systems, Vol. 12(2), April. 1994, pp. 119 - 149.
  5. Moss-Kanter. R. The New Managerial Work. Harvard Business Review, November-December 1989, pp 85 - 92.
  6. Sproull. L. and Kiesler. S. Connections: New ways of Working in the Networked Organization. MIT Press, 1992.
  7. Wilkinson, B. The Shop-Floor Politics of New Technology. Heinemann Educational Books, 1983
  8. Zuboff. S. New Worlds of Computer Mediated Work, Harvard Business Review, Sept. - Oct. 1982, pp. 142 - 152.

Web Links

There are many links to articles on New Organization Forms in A Business Researchers Interests. A selection of these links are shown below.

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