15 Oct Persistent and hesitant Development (PhD redefined)
If all the paths were sign-posted, it wouldn’t have been so much fun to do a PhD.
When I look back at the concepts and research questions that I have thrown away in the meantime, I see that a small mountain has arisen. And yet, with every scrunched-up paper in the corner, I find myself more on the path that is my path. Not without a bit of doubt, but always with motivation and enthusiasm.
Macro or micro?
I am intrigued by the effects of digital technology on work. My interest is not so much in the macro consequences, because these have already been charted many times. But what exactly happens in the organization itself when a new digital system is introduced?
How do tasks change? What happens to educational requirements? How may collaboration change even across organizational boundaries? That is why I studied one work process within one organization (municipality) in an exploratory study.
My initial study indeed reveals the consequences for job content and labor relations that the well-known macro studies often indicate. That was scientifically nice. Not shocking. Far more interesting to me are the insights that some parties expected to be involved in the implementation process apparently were not, and vice versa.
Apparently, a lot of things happen in the organization well before the systems are ready for the end users. Who is involved? What points of view receive much or little support and how does this process lead to the final choices and effects for work? That seems much more interesting to me now.
And for the fanatical researchers among you: I’m going down the theoretical path of Social Construction and Shaping of Technology. A path that was roughly cut out by Pinch & Bijker in 1984 and then made into a network of paths by Orlikowski, Williams & Edge, Klein & Kleinman and Leonardi & Barley, among others. Van Baalen, Van Fenema and Loebbecke proposed an extension to digital technology in 2016.
Shift + Focus
So my focus has shifted (from the effects of digital technology that become visible in job content and labor relations), to the process within the black box of the organization. Another wad of paper in the corner!
I didn’t see the signposts. But does it not make perfect sense in retrospect that, as a non-economist, I am not carrying out a macro-economic study of employment changes? And that, without a typical financial background, I am not studying the wage trends or inequalities resulting from digitization?
If I had recognized the indicators right away and walked straight to my goal, it wouldn’t have been so interesting. I wouldn’t have learned so much about the area of my interest and, surpisingly, about myself. Or is that precisely the typical view of an occupational and organizational psychologist?