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Title: Technology at work : an investigation of technology as a mediator of organizational processes in the human services and the implications for consultancy practice
Author: Waggett, Nick
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9192
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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Increasing technology use in the organization of human services is seen as essential to achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness. However, the promises may not be realised if technology generates processes and structures that are misaligned to the primary task of the service. How and why this occurs, and the role of unconscious and emotional factors, is insufficiently understood. There is limited guidance on how to work with technology in complex services where anxiety, and defences against it, may be a significant factor. Drawing on systems-psychodynamics, actor-network and process theory, this research addresses these gaps through a methodology in which human and technology are seen to operate symmetrically in the ongoing formation of organizations. The research studies child welfare and mental health services as an ‘extreme case’ for technology implementation as the site of significant transformation and powerful human dynamics. Data are gathered via a visual method known as the social photo-matrix in which participants, all practitioners in these services, generate and respond to images on the theme of ‘technology at work’. It is found that technology reduces an organization’s capacity for processing emotion which leaves staff with increased anxiety and fewer ways to modify it. Technology mediates organizational processes to make them fit the models of measurement and efficiency by which it operates, and transforms the reality of services both on the ground and in the minds of the people within them. It is concluded that these processes make staff less available to provide compassionate, empathic care for service users, and generate organizational processes that may not be aligned to the task of providing human services. The implication for leaders and consultants is that it is only possible to realise the promises of technology if it is engaged with thoughtfully, in an environment where anxieties can be managed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral