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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2451/14212

Title: Information Technology and Occupational Structure
Authors: Laudon, Kenneth C.
Marr, Kenneth L.
Issue Date: Apr-1995
Publisher: Stern School of Business, New York University
Series/Report no.: IS-95-04
Abstract: A central tenet of much popular and scholarly literature is that computers -and more broadly speaking "information systems"- bring about significant change in organizations. Some scholars focus on changes in organizational structure- the division of labor and its coordination through authority and power (Blau, 1976; Danziger, et. d., 1982; Laudon, 1976; 1986; Keen 1981; Kling and Iacono, 1984; Orlikowski and Robey, 1991; Robey, 1981; Walton, 1989; Barley 1986; 1990) . Others focus on IT induced changes in the design of work (Zuboff, 1984; Bikson, et. al., 1985: Kraut, et. al., 1987; Sproull and Kiesler, 199 1; Turner, 1984; Iacono and Kling, 1987). Still others have argued that IT significantly alters occupational structure in organizations--the distribution of employment among occupations and skill classes of workers (Braverman, 1984; Kling and Turner, 1987; Berndt, et. al., 1992; Howell and W e , 1993; Cyert and Mowry, 1988; 1989). In general, the impact of IT on occupational structure of firms and organizations is a neglected area of empirical research despite the fact that scholars have strong opinions, and convincing theories, about such occupational shifts. In this paper we report the results of a twenty year longitudinal study of occupational structure in three of the largest and most intensive organizational users of IT in the United States. For benchmarking purposes we also examine occupational change at the aggregate society level and in the federal government sector over a twenty year period. The results of our research question the claim that IT brings about significant change in occupational structure. While the organizations we examine did experience significant change in occupational structure during periods of intense computerization, these changes did not conform to theoretical predictions and they were inconsistent from one organization to another. We conc1ude that organizational occupational structures are quite stable in the face of massive IT change and claims that IT brings about "revo1utionary” changes in organizational structure have little empirical foundation even though there may be isolated cases where such rapid and drastic changes do occur.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2451/14212
Appears in Collections:IOMS: Information Systems Working Papers

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