Title

Mobile information systems and organizational control: A Foucauldian approach

Abstract

The latest advances in the field of communication tools and networks have led to the development of

‘mobile’ technologies. Mobile technologies provide workers with almost permanent access to their

company’s Information System (IS) and continual availability of information in time and space,

thereby contributing to the development of “mobile IS.” Mobile IS generate a reconstruction of the

relationship between time and space, and act as catalysts of deeper social and human changes,

leading to ambivalent effects in the field of management. More particularly, a paradox emerges with

respect to mobile IS as they can be considered in turn as instruments of autonomy and freedom or

control of distance activities. To what extent are the interactions between mobile IS and

organizational actors liable to change the company’s control systems? In this paper, we argue that a

Foucauldian approach can enrich our understanding of the evolution of organizational control linked

to mobile IS. We present the results of four case studies (based on 85 semi-structured interviews and

10 days of observation). This research shows the relevance of Foucault’s conceptual framework

(linking discourses, discipline and ethics) to explore the interactions between IS, the organization and

individual actors, in a political perspective.

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