Technical Unemployment

Will it be different this time?

A blog to discuss published academic research, social media and news articles that refer to Technical Unemployment


What am I talking about? And why am I interested?


Technical Unemployment can be an emotive subject, sometimes very emotive, especially for the people that have lost or are under the threat of losing their jobs due to the introduction of computer automation.

I use the term computer automation to mean computers that use analytics or some form of automation to complete tasks that we as humans would normally do.

Robotic automation is not what this blog is or will be about. There are many studies, articles and blogs written about automation through robotics or robots in general.

Why did I become interested in Technical unemployment and the perceptions or thoughts people had about computer automation?

Well, the initial catalyst for my interest was Science Fiction. Watching, reading and learning that science fiction sometimes becomes Science Fact.

For example, H.G Wells (1866 – 1946)  foretold in the book ‘Men like Gods’ of wireless systems that used voicemail and email as properties to communicate. Sound like the internet, smartphones and Bluetooth to you?

Automation has many facets.

Robots, in the car/truck/food production line, analytics in the software we use regardless of where it is used – they all require people to change and adjust to using these new tools.

Throughout my career, I have seen and managed many digital projects that have changed the way that employees interact with computers.   I have managed the implementation, arranged for the training, and managed the changes required for those new tools to be used to their optimum.

But pulling that together with the working career I have had to date, and undertaking this MBA, I noticed something missing in the published business and academic research and reporting.

A gap if you will.

No one has investigated the feelings or perceptions people may have about the introduction of new computer automation, and how they feel it will effect the job they do.

Will computer automation make their jobs easier, or harder, will computer automation replace the job they do in its entirety or just some of the tasks.

And this is where my interest lies,  the perception employees have about the introduction of new computer automation. Does it make them feel uncertain or scare them? Do they have concerns new technology will make them redundant?

These perceptioons and feelings can make or break the acceptance and success of any new computer automation. 

Redundancy, regardless of the reasons, can have sweeping impacts on the employee and their families – from the reduction of financial stability to the diminishing of mental and physical health.

The prospect of redundancy can give rise to the same impacts as those that would be felt if the employee had actually been made redundant – over time, possibly affecting their mental and physical health, stress and anxiety levels, as well as motivation and productivity at work. 

As I have said, historically, research to date has looked at the automation of a job, a task or a set of tasks, and the possible impacts that automation may have on the organisation and its capabilities.

Few studies have looked at the employee and the perceptions they may have regarding automation within the office workplace, the impact on them, and the security of their continued employment. 

This study can be seen as important, as employee perception can give rise to changes in motivation and information exchanges, effecting organisational capabilities and innovation.


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