T4-03: HRM for digitalised work

6 September 2019, 09:00–10:30

Chair: Wenzel Matiaske


Social interaction, digitalisation and loyalty

David Öborn Regin, Karlstad University

In this paper, I want to discuss how an increased use of digital systems and management tools could be seen as changing social relations and loyalty bonds within organizations. The starting point is the changed role and function of administration within public organizations. The paper is based on a theoretical framework of loyalty and social interaction, and empirical material from an ongoing research project partially focusing on the role of administration in public organizations.

One could argue that the social interactions and relations in organizations are undergoing a major change as more of the governing and communication goes via digital systems as tools for planning, evaluation and control. It has placed the person exercising the managerial power further away from the subject of that power, and in doing so, hiding it. Administrative system has ”been developed, managed and implemented by designers, technicians and public administrators, who are invisible in the moment of interacting with the system” (Haraldsson & Lilja, 2017, p. 167). An intermediary of anonymity and distance through the digital systems has replaced the direct interpersonal social relationship.

Use of digital systems have also in other ways changed the social dynamic within organizations as information gathered in administrative systems replaces individual contacts and local knowledge (Bruhn 2015). That reduces the need for social interaction and the importance of silent skills and bonding. The social bonds in organizations could perhaps be seen as partially replaced by digital connections and interfaces. A pre-study indicates that the specialization in administration, and the increased amount on “every-day administration” places on the professions has increased a fragmentation of work and reduced the experience of a common task and social environment.

One can argue that loyalty, and the idea of common interests is a crucial part of building collective agency. In theories of loyalty the aspect of closeness, in task and geography, and the time spent together on a common task are central to create and uphold bonds of loyalty. The increased use of digital administrative and managerial systems could in one way be seen as reducing the ground for local loyalties based on physical closeness. On the other hand, it could be seen as opening up new avenues to loyal relations between different parts and agents within organizations.

In a study of public administration in Sweden, Forssell & Westerberg (2014) outlines the development of changes in that sector and describes  a process of both amateurisation and professionalization.  The everyday administration are placed on the “professions” and a new kind of specialized administrative units grows larger, closed connected to the organizational management.  The new administrators do not have their loyalty towards core business but against the administrative objectives and control systems " (Forssell & Westerberg, 2014, p. 238). These changes affect power relations between groups within (and between) organizations. There has been an overall change in, for example, Human service organizations, from nursing logic to market logic that effects the social positions within the  hierarchy, and what is perceived as the core functions - old professions are challenged by new (Hasenfeld, 2009).

I have two starting points – (1) the change of social interaction as an effect of digital administrative systems and (2) the changes in the division of labour, and perhaps status, related to administration in organizations. I am interested in see how that changes the informal relations and expectations in the work place, and the possibility to formulate common stands. In my paper, I would like to explore the idea that a concept of loyalty as a guide for social action could be a possible way to explore changes in the social dynamics within organizations by looking at organizations (and its surroundings) as a field of competing loyalty claims.

What I am interested in is whether it would be useful to see behaviors in organizational changes, changing professional roles, formal tasks and informal expectations of roles and people based on a weave of loyalty relationships and loyalty requirements, and how those are affected by new digital bindings.

Learning factories and their use in changed practices of human resource management

Anna Conrad, Ruhr University Bochum
Manfred Wannöffel, Ruhr University Bochum

Digitalisation, Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, new technologies – even though these buzzwords already define parts of the working world, they will gain even more importance in the future. They offer new chances for lifelong learning, work-life balance, handling the demographic change, ergonomic design, or the development of new professions. However, they also constitute challenges in terms of job security, replacement of human actors or the role of workers’ representatives such as trade unions and works councils. They affect Human Resource Management in general because these changes of technologies are likely to result in changed employment and business models.  All in all, new methods of qualification are required to fill the gaps in knowledge and competencies that inevitably open up when new technologies are introduced at such a fast rate as we experience it today.

Traditional concepts of vocational and further educations profit from adding modular trainings which provide practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge about different, urgent matters appearing in the context of changing working worlds. Learning factories are relatively new learning environments that can offer this mixture of practical and theoretical examination. Learning factories have been built in industry and academia and were set up in many variations aiming to improve the learning experience in several areas of applications. They figure a model of a real factory and include education, research and innovation.

Even though they originally centre on more technological topics such as production, lean management or robotics, some learning factories with a different focus have been established. One unique example is the LPS Learning Factory of the Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB). It uses a socio-technical approach (technology – organisation – personnel), placing the human actor and workers´ participation in the centre of considerations. In an interdisciplinary cooperation between two institutions of the Ruhr-University Bochum different fields such as participation, co-determination, assistance systems, quality of work, or human-robot-collaboration can be addressed from different perspectives. More specifically, the Office of Cooperation Ruhr-University Bochum/IG Metall contributes topics of Industrial Relations and the Chair of Production Systems (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) covers the more technological questions. Via problem based and action orientated learning approaches participants are confronted with complex professional situations and can gain experience in a shielded area about the possible consequences their actions and reactions can have.

This paper will explain what defines learning factories in general, but it will also present the huge variety of learning factories and the benefits of the particular RUB learning factory. It will deal with the different target groups that can be trained in this special learning environment, such as works councils, bachelor, master or PhD students, managers, trade unionists, teachers or high school students. Two examples of interdisciplinary teaching programmes will be presented; one is addressed at master students of social sciences and mechanical engineering, the other at works councils and trade unionists coming from the IG Metall project “Work and Innovation”, which took place at the RUB-learning factory between 2016 and 2019.

The paper will try to answer the question what learning factories can contribute to the ever-changing practice of Human Resource Management, especially in this complex and rapidly developing world of technologies, in a way that the human actors, workers´ participation and co-determination remain at the centre of action.

Keywords: learning factories, qualification, further education, co-determination, human resource management


  • Abele, E. et al. (2017) ‘Learning factories for future oriented research and education in manufacturing’, CIRP Annals – Manufacturing Technology 66(2), pp. 803-826. ELSEVIER 10.1016/j.cirp.2017.05.005.
  • IG Metall Vorstand (2018) ´Industrie 4.0 gestalten lernen. Lernfabriken für die gewerkschaftliche Arbeit nutzen´. Frankfurt: Ressort Zukunft der Arbeit.
  • Kaßebaum, B., Wannöffel, M. (2018) ‘Ingenieursausbildung und Digitalisierung - Neue Beruflichkeit im Konzept des Lernens in der Lernfabrik‘, in: Dobischat, R. et al. (eds.), Bildung 2.1 für Arbeit 4.0?, Bildung und Arbeit, Reihe 6, Springer VS.
  • Kaßebaum, B., Wannöffel, M. (2017) ‘Berufliches Lernen im Studium: die Lernfabrik‘, berufsbildung, Zeitschrift für Theorie-Praxis- Dialog 71(164), pp. 36-38.
  • Kreimeier, D. et al. (2014) ‘Holistic learning factories – A concept to train lean management, resource efficiency as well as management and organization improvement skills’, Procedia CIRP, 17(C), Proceedings of the 47th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems, Windsor, Ontario, Canada pp. 184-188. ELSEVIER 10.1016/j.procir.2014.01.040.
  • Oberc, H. et al. (2018) ‘Development of a learning factory concept to train participants regarding digital and human centered decision support‘, Procedia Manufacturing 23, pp.165-170.
  • Reuter, M. et al. (2017) ‘Learning factories‘ trainings as an enabler of proactive workers` participation regarding Industrie 4.0‘, Procedia Manufacturing 9(C), pp. 354-360.
  • Wagner, P. et al. (2015) ‘Learning Factory for management, organization and workers’ participation’, Procedia CIRP, 32, The 5th Conference on Learning Factories 2015, pp. 115-119. ELSEVIER 10.1016/j.procir.2015.02.118.


Crowdsourcing platforms for paid work

A literature review from a personnel economics and psychology perspective

Paul Hemsen, Paderborn University
Julian Schulte, Bielefeld University
Katharina Schlicher, Bielefeld University

Crowdsourcing describes a type of participative online activity in which an organization proposes a task to a group of individuals via a flexible open call (Estellés-Arolas & González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, 2012).

This study focuses on a literature review of crowdsourcing platforms especially for paid work on so-called “crowdworking platforms”. The main contributions are the overview of empirical studies on the subject from a personnel economics and psychological perspective and the development of a comprehensive Input-Process-Output Model (IPO-Model) from the workers’ perspective. In the remainder of this abstract, we will discuss the focus, theoretical background and design of our systematic review.

Research on crowd work is heterogeneous in nature and driven by multiple disciplines. Not surprisingly, researchers have already conducted literature reviews (e.g. Chittilappilly, Chen, & Amer-Yahia, 2016; Ghezzi, Gabelloni, Martini, & Natalicchio, 2017; Kittur et al., 2013; Zhao & Zhu, 2014). However, these focus broadly of the crowdsourcing concept, thereby not differentiating whether it is a digital gainful work or an unpaid voluntary participation. Such reviews usually study what crowdsourcing is, how it is different from similar or related concepts, and how crowdsourcing works (conceptualization focus) (Zhao & Zhu, 2014). They also discuss how crowdsourcing is applied in different situations and for different purposes.

This review contributes to the previous literature by evaluating existing research systematically and describing empirical connections between constructs by grouping similar research into clusters. In contrast to past research which approaches crowdsourcing holistically, we focus specifically on crowd work, i.e. crowd sourcing in which contributors are paid and enter a particular employment relationship with the platform. We are particularly interested in outcomes of this relationship for the individual crowd worker.

Since crowdworking has important similarities to other types of work both typical (e.g. permanent and temporary employment) and atypical (e.g. teleworking, freelancing, self-employment), extant research in personnel economics and personnel psychology can be used to shed light on the factors that might influence crowdworking initiatives.

We reviewed 91 empirical articles, systematically codified these studies and developed an IPO-Model from a personnel economics and psychological perspective. IPO-Models are widely used in sciences for describing processes in system analysis and mechanisms of action in research.

Studies were identified by applying a number of search terms: crowd work*, crowdwork*, crowd sourc*, crowdsource*, platform economy, gig economy or crowd employment. The most important databases for both psychology and economics were searched, namely PsycINFO, EconLit and Business Source Complete. Due to a high number of hits, the search was narrowed down to empirical studies. Additionally, we applied a backward and forward search strategy on the references of key articles. This search resulted in 1173 primary studies overall. We selected relevant primary studies by applying three selection criteria. The studies had to (1) report research on the construct of crowdworking, (2) show an emphasis on personnel economic and psychological research questions, (3) and collect empirical data.

As a result, 91 studies remained and were systematically codified by publication data; information about sample, crowdworking platform, research design, methodology and findings. An iterative bottom-up approach then aggregated these codified variables into clusters based on similarity and content-related proximity. The clusters are divided into the three stages of the IPO-model, namely input, process and output.

The input variables were grouped into seven clusters: monetary incentives; nonmonetary incentives; task design; market-related variables; workers’ qualification/profile; workers’ traits/characteristics; individual working history on the platform. The input variables were modeled in primary studies to explain the variations of specific process- or output variables.

The output variables were grouped into six clusters: job satisfaction, worker commitment towards the platform, participation in crowd work, qualitative performance, quantitative performance and employability of the crowd worker.

Involved process variables which potentially moderate or mediate the relationship between input and output variables were grouped into six clusters: workers’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation; workers’ affect; workers' perceived competence; invested effort for task completion; workers’ trust towards the platform and workers’ perceived fairness of the processes on crowdworking platforms.

Further analyses of the literature expand the IPO-Model by information about statistically significant and non-significant relations. Hence, our review shows how often a research question has been addressed and which statistical effects evolved in the studies.

Overall, our review provides a roadmap for future research on the topic of crowd work as digital gainful work. We identify and quantify the state of the art in current research of personal economics and psychology on the topic of crowd work. Our review has important implications on how to enhance factors that are critical to worker and platforms alike, such as attraction, motivation and commitment of self-employed workers on crowdworking platforms.


  • Chittilappilly, A. I., Chen, L., & Amer-Yahia, S. 2016. A Survey of General-Purpose Crowdsourcing Techniques. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, 28(9): 2246–2266.
  • Estellés-Arolas, E., & González-Ladrón-de-Guevara, F. 2012. Towards an integrated crowdsourcing definition. Journal of Information Science, 38(2): 189–200.
  • Ghezzi, A., et al. 2017. Crowdsourcing: A review and suggestions for future research. International Journal of Management Reviews.
  • Kittur, A., et al. 2013. The future of crowd work, Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work: 1301–1318.
  • Zhao, Y., & Zhu, Q. 2014. Evaluation on crowdsourcing research: Current status and future direction. Information Systems Frontiers, 16(3): 417–434.


‘Should I stay or should I go?’

The importance of lifelong guidance for lifelong learning from the perspective of professional employees

Kristina Lovén Seldén, TCO – The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees

In an increasingly digital economy, lifelong learning is likely to become more important than ever before, at all skill levels. Even if few jobs can be fully automated, and the speed of change is likely to differ between sectors, countries and companies, nearly all jobs or tasks will be impacted in one way or another.

In order for workers and employees to be able to update existing skills and acquire new skills throughout their careers, appropriate systems of education and reskilling are thus needed. As more and more workers have a higher education already when they join the labour market, employees are also going to need to return to university several times over the course of their working life, in order to improve on their skills, change career or move across industries. Massive shortages of skills in almost every sector in the Swedish labour market makes this need even more urgent. Investments in lifelong learning and skills may however also be viewed as a cornerstone of an inclusive labour market.

A crucial yet often overlooked dimension of lifelong learning is lifelong guidance. As concluded by the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELPGN) gradually more attention has though been given to guidance at EU level and national levels in recent years, for both economic and social reasons. Guidance, it is argued, is necessary to avoid unemployment among those with a short educational background as old jobs are replaced by new ones. Structural change and rationalisation will however impact mid-and high qualified jobs as well as these groups of workers also will need to update their skills in order to stay relevant.  

Even if the literature stresses the need to strengthen and broaden access to lifelong guidance throughout the entire working life, little is known about adults’ actual demands and incentives for seeking guidance (or their reluctance to do so) – at least from a Swedish perspective.

Against this background, the paper examines the experiences and expectations of professional employees on career guidance. The paper focuses among other things on factors enabling or hindering employees from pursuing guidance, their perceived need for guidance, as well as their views on the form and content. Difficulties that they may have experienced along the way are also addressed. Whether they see guidance as an efficient tool for transition is highlighted as well.  The paper discusses joint experiences as well as important differences between employees with regard to educational level, gender, age, branch and occupation.

Empirically, the paper draws upon a statistical postal survey conducted by the Swedish Statistics (SCB) on behalf of TCO (The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees) in 2017. The sample size is 6500 individuals and the response rate is 43 percent.

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