Consequences of Discontinuing Knowledge Work Automation - Surfacing of Deskilling Effects and Methods of Recovery

Rinta-Kahila, Tapani
Penttinen, Esko
Salovaara, Antti
Soliman, Wael
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IS automation pervades business processes today. Thus, concerns have been raised about automation’s potential deskilling effects on knowledge workers. We conduct a revelatory case study about an IT service firm where a managerial decision was taken to discontinue a fixed assets management (FAM) software that provided seemingly effective automation of fixed assets accounting and reporting. We study how automation can result in latent deskilling that later becomes apparent when the system gets discontinued, causing disruptions in employees’ daily work and organizational processes. We also investigate how the employees and the company recover from this disruption by leveraging various coping strategies. We suggest that automation of an accounting function/process played a key role in the deskilling of accountants. Although the effect on worker skills may not be obvious when the system is operational, discontinuing the system brings the effect to the apparent level.
The Dark Side of Information Technology, accounting system, automation, deskilling, fixed assets management, IS discontinuance
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