Digital work and organisational transformation: Emergent Digital/Human work configurations in modern organisations

João Baptista, Mari Klara Stein, Stefan Klein, Mary Beth Watson-Manheim, Jungwoo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Workplace technologies are more central to working in organisations than ever before. These technologies began as instrumental aids to support office work of individuals but have since also become the basis for social interactions and community building in organisations and more recently become able to perform managerial roles with the use of advanced AI capabilities. Our call for papers to this special issue invited original studies to go further and advance our thinking on the strategic implications of this layered evolution of workplace technologies on work and the structure of organisations. In this introduction, we synthesise the main themes from the special issue, and also ongoing dialogues with the growing community at the regular AIS / IFIP 9.1 workshop on the Changing Nature of Work. A key observation is that the work involved in configuring emergent Digital/Human configurations, is vastly under-reported and poorly understood. Paradoxically, this configuring work is the most demanding and critical in the shaping of modern organisations. We suggest that this type of largely invisible work requires engagement beyond the level of execution or even the meaning of work, it requires intervening with third order effects that get to the core of what an organisation is. We highlight the challenges for organisations in dealing with third order change, particularly because these effects are beyond existing frames of reference and require more dynamic and supple responses based on the values, purpose and intent dominant in the organisation – we describe this as structural digital work. Leaders that are unable or unwilling to engage with effects at this level, and this type of work, will miss identifying core opportunities and risks associated with digital transformation in organisations. We also reflect on the value of current theories and methods used to research this important and emergent phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101618
JournalJournal of Strategic Information Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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