When Big Brother is Benevolent: How Technology Developers Navigate Power Dynamics Among Users to Elevate Worker Interests
Myers, J.E. 2023.
In press at Academy of Management Discoveries
Existing research on technologies-in-use has overlooked how contemporary technology developers interact with users to shape the effects of workplace technologies and what role power plays in these interactions. In this qualitative study of a digital manufacturing monitoring technology, I examine how third-party developers pursued ongoing acceptance from high-powered manufacturing managers while attempting to incorporate the interests of low-powered manufacturing workers across their client base. I develop a two-stage model that depicts the underlying sources of divergent user preferences and the practices that developers used to navigate these differences. First, in response to cross-occupational differences between managers and workers within client firms, developers used alignment moves to pursue interest alignment while encoding workers’ preferences into design prototypes. Next, when facing cross-firm differences due to pushback by managers in some contexts, developers used buffering moves to limit the influence of these managers and release the new features. As a complement to examining local variation in use, I suggest that future research on workplace technologies should focus on developers’ capacity to disrupt managerial control across different clients and user groups. Because they enact jurisdiction over ongoing design and development, developers are an important professional group to consider in contemporary technology ecosystems.
State Actor Orchestration for Achieving Workforce Development at Scale: Evidence From Four U.S. States
Myers, J.E. & Kellogg, K.C. 2022. .
ILR Review, (75)1.
Using a 20-month qualitative study of four US states that implemented career pathways spanning from high schools to colleges to employers, the authors illustrate the potential for state government actors to facilitate coordination of workforce development systems across geographies and industries. As a complement to explanations situated in workforce intermediary practices or formal state policies, the authors show that state actors can address barriers to coordination by using state actor orchestration—structuring provisional goal setting and revision, encouraging experimentation, and framing coordination to inspire collective action. This approach involves three types of practices: structural (building statewide governance structures and modifying governance processes), political (providing initial direction and piloting and broadening the set of stakeholders), and cultural (identifying key problems and collective action solutions and building social accountability for new roles). These practices vary according to states’ institutional environments: Where governance is more centralized, state actors gain latitude to guide regional workforce development.
Moving Violations: Pairing an Illegitimate Learning Hierarchy with Trainee Status Mobility for Acquiring New Skills When Traditional Expertise Erodes
Kellogg, K. C., Myers, J. E., Gainer, L., & Singer, S. J. 2021.
Organization Science, 32(1), 181-209.
We explore how members of a community of practice learn new tools and techniques when environmental shifts undermine existing expertise. In our 20-month comparative field study of medical assistants and patient-service representatives learning to use new digital technology in five primary care sites, we find that the traditional master-apprentice training model worked well when established practices were being conferred to trainees. When environmental change required introducing new tools and techniques with which the experienced members had no expertise, third-party managers selected newer members as trainers because managers judged them to be agile learners who were less committed to traditional hierarchies and more willing to deviate from traditional norms. This challenged community members’ existing status, which was based on the historical distinctions of long tenure and expertise in traditional tasks. In three sites, the introduction of this illegitimate learning hierarchy sparked status competition among trainees and trainers, and trainees collectively resisted learning new tools and techniques. In the other two sites, managers paired the new, illegitimate learning hierarchy with the opportunity for trainee status mobility by rotating the trainer role; here, trainees embraced learning in order to exit the lower-status trainee group and join the higher-status trainer group. Drawing on ideas of status group legitimacy and mobility, we suggest that managers’ pairing of an illegitimate learning hierarchy with the opportunity for trainee status mobility is a mechanism for enabling the situated learning of new techniques when traditional expertise erodes.
- Rachel Carson -
"If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow."
- Temple Grandin -
"Observation is an important part of science because it is used to form hypotheses for controlled experiments."
Myers, J. E. Triadic Technology Configuration: A Relational Perspective on Technologists' Role in Shaping Emerging Technologies (Under second review)
Myers, J.E. Ecological Matching: How Change Agents Shape the Learning of Occupational Groups Following Environmental Change (Revise and resubmit)
Myers, J. E. Employer Perceptions of Youth Workforce Development: Promoting Occupational Embeddedness in Two Tennessee Regions (Preparing manuscript)
Myers, J.E. & Kellogg, K.C. Sequential Ambidexterity for the Integration of New HR Practices Into Existing Operations: The Case of Online Training in Long-term Care Facilities (Preparing manuscript)
Myers, J.E. & Vinton, J. (2020). “IR: What is past, passing, and yet to come.” Review of A Field in Flux: Sixty Years of Industrial Relations, by Robert McKersie. LERA: Perspectives on Work, Vol. 24, pg. 104-105.