2019/07 LEM Working Paper Series

Control in the era of surveillance capitalism: an empirical investigation of Italian Industry 4.0 factories

Angelo Moro, Matteo Rinaldini, Jacopo Staccioli and Maria Enrica Virgillito
Industry 4.0; Organisational Change; Control; Saturation of Working Time.

  JEL Classifications
L23, L6, M54, O33
We explore the extent to which the current technological trend, dubbed Industry 4.0, might increase forms of control inside organisations, by focussing on pivotal firms in the so-called Italian Motor Valley currently embracing its adoption. We find that Industry 4.0 technologies open up great possibilities for incorporating the three forms of control identified by Orlikowski (1991), i.e. personal, bureaucratic, and social, into technological artefacts, often blending them together. If, on the one hand, this implies a technical and theoretical feasibility of enforcing forms of 'Big Brother' surveillance within the boundaries of organisations, and hereby of the workplace, on the other hand, the actual achievement of these possibilities depends on the organisational environment within which the new technologies are implemented.
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