Robots and Organization Studies: Why Robots Might Not Want to Steal Your Job

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Organization Studies, 2019, 40 (1), pp. 23 - 38
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A number of recent high-profile studies of robotics and artificial intelligence (or AI) in economics and sociology have predicted that many jobs will soon disappear due to automation, with few new ones replacing them. While techno-optimists and techno-pessimists contest whether a jobless future is a positive development or not, this paper points to the elephant in the room. Despite successive waves of computerization (including advanced machine learning), jobs have not disappeared. And probably won’t in the near future. To explain why, some basic insights from organization studies can make a contribution. I propose the concept of ‘bounded automation’ to demonstrate how organizational forces mould the application of technology in the employment sector. If work does not vanish in the age of AI, then poorly paid jobs will most certainly proliferate, I argue. Finally, a case is made for the scholarly community to engage with wider social justice concerns. This I term public organization studies.
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