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Title: Exploring the role of technology in project-based organising : negotiating between the individual and the collective
Author: Yeow, Jillian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2684 5124
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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The presence and extensive use of information and communication technology (ICT) is one of the defining features of new work; one of the ways in which ICTs have been said to transform the nature of work and how work is enacted, is in enabling new working practices and new ‘virtual’ organisational configurations. Project-based organising (PBO) combined with ICT-enabled working practices result in new configurations and movements of people that lead to a re-organisation of social relations, which places new emphasis on the individual and re-examines the notion of collective action in organisations. This thesis aims to advance the ongoing debate on the dynamic interplay between work, organisation and technology, and to offer a perspective of individualisation and collectivism as ways in which to understand sociality in contemporary work contexts. It explores two cases of technologically-mediated PBO, and the subsequent implications for the individual and the collective. It looks at how varying degrees and dimensions of virtuality in project teams impact on individual and collective practices. In particular, mobility and increased virtuality plays a role in these practices and leads to new forms of sociality. This research demonstrates the adoption of technology in different directions by the two organisations, largely congruent with the type of work that is done, and the forms of control necessary to support the different nature of knowledge work. The study shows that ICT is increasingly embedded in many aspects of contemporary work; it is used to bring together virtual project teams and also increasingly mediates work in co-located teams. Technologically-mediated communication complements face-to-face interactions, and both are used concomitantly to enact individual and collective actions. The study finds that the extent to which individual and collective actions unfold, and the extent to which these actions are more technologically-mediated or humanistic-centred, reflect and embody some inherent tensions prevalent in project work. In particular, ZeppoCom embraces the post-bureaucratic outlook of PBO and demonstrates a tendency to emphasise individual, technologically-mediated agency. In contrast, Harpo Bank reveals a propensity towards collective, humanistic-centred agency valuing the vertically-defined routines, norms and practices of project management. This thesis provides a theoretical understanding of PBO as a dynamic between individualistic and collective organising on a continuum of increasing technologically-mediated interaction. In practical terms, a focus on the individual–collective and technologically-mediated–socially-centred continuums suggests differences in the implementation of ICT-enabled work under PBO conditions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available