Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work

Mari-Klara Stein, Erica L. Wagner, Pamela Tierney, Sue Newell, Robert D. Galliers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Proliferation of digital means of tracking worker activities has contributed to the rise of data‐driven approaches to managing people, with employees often required to record their activities for accountability purposes. Increased requirement for such datification work occurs at a juncture where meaningfulness is one of the most sought‐after work features. Datification work could both facilitate and hinder the pursuit of meaningfulness, yet literature provides little guidance into the nature of the connection and how it transpires. Our inductive study of academic professionals using an accountability system suggests that datification work characteristics link to meaningful work experiences in complex ways. We advance current theory on work meaningfulness by theorizing the role of a new work condition – datification – in meaningfulness experiences of professionals, outlining how system design and the institutional context become important elements influencing meaningful work experiences, and explaining how meaningfulness experiences are constructed through system appropriations.
Proliferation of digital means of tracking worker activities has contributed to the rise of data‐driven approaches to managing people, with employees often required to record their activities for accountability purposes. Increased requirement for such datification work occurs at a juncture where meaningfulness is one of the most sought‐after work features. Datification work could both facilitate and hinder the pursuit of meaningfulness, yet literature provides little guidance into the nature of the connection and how it transpires. Our inductive study of academic professionals using an accountability system suggests that datification work characteristics link to meaningful work experiences in complex ways. We advance current theory on work meaningfulness by theorizing the role of a new work condition – datification – in meaningfulness experiences of professionals, outlining how system design and the institutional context become important elements influencing meaningful work experiences, and explaining how meaningfulness experiences are constructed through system appropriations.
LanguageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Volume56
Issue number3
Pages685-717
Number of pages33
ISSN0022-2380
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • Accountability systems
  • Appropriation
  • Datification work
  • Meaningful work experiences
  • Professional employees

Cite this

Stein, M-K., Wagner, E. L., Tierney, P., Newell, S., & Galliers, R. D. (2019). Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work. Journal of Management Studies, 56(3), 685-717. DOI: 10.1111/joms.12409
Stein, Mari-Klara ; Wagner, Erica L. ; Tierney, Pamela ; Newell, Sue ; Galliers, Robert D./ Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work. In: Journal of Management Studies. 2019 ; Vol. 56, No. 3. pp. 685-717
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Stein, M-K, Wagner, EL, Tierney, P, Newell, S & Galliers, RD 2019, 'Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work' Journal of Management Studies, vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 685-717. DOI: 10.1111/joms.12409

Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work. / Stein, Mari-Klara; Wagner, Erica L.; Tierney, Pamela; Newell, Sue; Galliers, Robert D.

In: Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 56, No. 3, 05.2019, p. 685-717.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Stein M-K, Wagner EL, Tierney P, Newell S, Galliers RD. Datification and the Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Work. Journal of Management Studies. 2019 May;56(3):685-717. Available from, DOI: 10.1111/joms.12409