Algorithmic Governmentality and the Space of Ethics: Examples from 'People Analytics'

Richard Weiskopf*, Hans Krause Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Does human reflexivity disappear as datafication and automation expand and machines take over decision-making? In trying to find answers to this question, we take our lead from recent debates about People Analytics and analyze how the use of algorithmically driven digital technologies like facial recognition and drones in work-organizations and societies at large shape the conditions of ethical conduct. Linking the concepts of algorithmic governmentality and space of ethics, we analyze how such technologies come to form part of governing practices in specific contexts. We conclude that datafication and automation have huge implications for human reflexivity and the capacity to enact responsibility in decision-making. But that itself does not mean that the space for ethical conduct disappears, which is the impression left in some literatures, but rather that is modified and (re) constituted in the interplay of mechanisms of closure (like automating decision-making, black-boxing and circumventing reflexivity), and opening (such as dis-closing contingent values and interests in processes of problematization, contestation and resistance). We suggest that future research investigates in more detail the dynamics of closure and opening in empirical studies of the use and effects of algorithmically driven digital technologies in organizations and societies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)483-506
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • People analytics
  • Facial recognition
  • Drones
  • Ethics
  • Algorithmic
  • Governmentality

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