Academic WorkshopJune 14 2019

Algorithms on the Shop Floor

Data-Driven Technologies in Organizational Context

Madeleine Clare Elish
Elizabeth Anne Watkins

How do integrations of AI into organization contexts provoke new shifts in power relations and social values?

There is an increasing need to understand how automated, algorithmic, AI, or otherwise data-driven technologies are being integrated into organizational contexts and processes of all sizes and types. How can we make sense of what gets lost, what gets gained, and what gets changed? Many of these questions are long standing themes in organizational studies and social science research that examines the social complexities of working on the machine shop floor. Still, what is unique to this moment and how do such integrations provoke new shifts in power relations and social values?

To explore these questions, Data & Society hosted an academic workshop on the intersection of technology and organizational theory and practice on June 14, 2019. Twelve papers were selected following a public call for participation. The papers examined a wide range of contexts, including health care, public social services, on-demand labor, journalism, international software development, law, and fin-tech. Participants included researchers and practitioners studying how new technologies are introduced, incorporated, resisted, or maintained within organized groups, and the changes this integration brings.