Abstract

Ubiquitous digitalisation has given rise to technology-mediated control (TMC), which employs digital technologies to support or even automate control functions commonly performed by managers. Still, it remains unclear how concepts and insights from traditional IS control research can be applied to TMC. Performing a content analysis and building on secondary data, we use control concepts to analyse control practises of Uber and demonstrate their peculiarities in the TMC context. We find that Uber uses market mechanisms as a basic way of exercising control. When the market does not sufficiently achieve Uber’s objectives, it intervenes with bureaucratic mechanisms to fine-tune drivers’ behaviours. Such controls display a highly formalized, unilateral control process with a strong focus on sanctions, predominantly enacted coercively exhibiting a deskilling logic. Additionally, a ‘softer’ form of control has surfaced, which cannot be explained by traditional control concepts. Uber is apparently successful in blending opposing control aspects that would be difficult to mix in traditional human-to-human control contexts. By finding out how control theory can be applied to TMC, we want to develop a conceptual framework for TMC that would help investigating relevant topics, such as socio-emotional and economic impact on workers, transparency and ethical considerations

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