Autonomy and control in digital work contexts of high-reliability organizations
Universität Hohenheim/Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
It is the aim of this project to analyze perceptions of autonomy and control in digitalized work contexts with a special focus on high-reliability organizations. We focus on the two cases of hospitals and airports. Hospitals provide basic and vital medical services. Airports are important centers of national and international passenger and freight traffic with crucial security and mobility functions for the economy and society. Both cases are particularly affected by digitalization.
In both cases, the workplaces have a high technological standard, the teams are highly specialized, exposed to high physical and mental stress, often have a rapidly changing work intensity, process a large amount of data, are confronted with critical decisions and act in situations where small mistakes can have fatal consequences. In these contexts, the perception of autonomy and control and the resulting effects on work engagement and team collaboration are crucial.
The project contributes to the discussion on the perception of autonomy and control and its effects in digitalized workplaces for the workforce and the cooperation in teams, for the design of HRO and the process design in logistics companies. We especially aim to answer the following research question: How does digitalization affect the perception of autonomy and control in HRO? For this purpose, we will compare hospitals and airports and especially the strategic and operational levels in the respective organizations.
The project, thus, not only addresses research gaps regarding digitalization processes, but also aims at conceptual extensions and references between previously unconnected research literature in management science and sociology.
A mixed-methods study design will provide insights into perceptions of autonomy and control as well as cooperation between workers. The empirical investigation comprises (1) expert interviews with the strategic organizational level, (2) participating observations and (3) guided problem-centered interviews with workers. The qualitative results obtained will (4) be generalized with a quantitative survey.
The project mainly relates to the levels of micro and meso developments in organizations through digital change and include the impact dimensions “permeating", “making available” and “perpetuating” for the workforce. The results are relevant for the discussion on autonomy and control as well as the effects of digitalization on workers and their cooperation, especially in HRO and in digital work contexts of the logistics and service sector.