Management control, empowerment, labor process theory, enterprise systems, technology dominance, information technology


The evolution of technology brings with it the evolution of business processes. Without a doubt, technology changes how work is performed. At first glance, workplace technology appears to be a great boon to society. However, research presents opposing views on how workplace technologies impact the individual. One perspective argues that organizations utilize technology to redesign work processes, such that the worker requires less skill, autonomy, and compensation. The opposing perspective argues that organizations utilize technology to empower employees to improve efficiency and profits. This dissertation consists of three interrelated studies examining workplace technology’s impact on decision makers. The first study examines the capability of an enterprise system to increase the application of scientific management techniques to middle management and, consequently, to degrade middle management’s work by limiting their autonomy. The second study investigates the capability of an enterprise system to facilitate the empowerment of managers via mutual monitoring and social identification. The third study builds upon the first study by examining how limiting autonomy through technology impacts the intrinsic motivation of decision makers and, as a result, affects the decision making process. Study one applies labor process theory to explain how enterprise systems can degrade the work of middle management via scientific management techniques. The purpose of this study is to test if the expectations of labor process theory can be applied to enterprise systems. In order to test this assertion, a field survey utilizing 189 middle managers is employed and the data is analyzed using component based structural equation modeling. The results indicate that iii enterprise system integration increases two scientific management techniques, formalization and performance measurement, but do not reveal a significant relationship between enterprise system integration and routinization. Interestingly, the results also indicate that routinization is the only scientific management technique, of the three studied, that directly limits the autonomy of the middle managers. Although performance measurement does not reduce autonomy directly, performance measurement interacts with routinization to reduce autonomy. This study contributes to the enterprise system literature by demonstrating enterprise systems’ ability to increase the degree of scientific management applied to middle management. It also contributes to labor process theory by revealing that routinization may be the scientific management technique that determines whether other control techniques are utilized in a manner consistent with labor process theory. The ability of an enterprise system to facilitate the application of Mary Parker Follett’s managerial control concepts are investigated in the second study. Specifically, Follett theorizes that information sharing facilitates the internalization of group goals and empowers individuals to have more influence and be more effective. This study employs a survey of 206 managers to test the theoretical relationships. The results indicate that enterprise system integration increases information sharing in the form of mutual monitoring, consequently, leading to social identification among peer managers. Additionally, social identification among peer managers empowers managers to have more influence over the organization. The study contributes to empowerment research by acknowledging and verifying the role that social identification plays in translating an empowering work climate into empowered managers. The study’s conclusion iv that enterprise system integration facilitates the application of Follett’s managerial control concepts extends both enterprise system and managerial control literature. The third study builds upon study one by examining the affect that autonomy has upon the decision maker. This study marries self-determination theory and technology dominance theory to understand the role that self-determination, intrinsic motivation, and engagement have upon technology dominance. Self-determination theory asserts that higher degrees of selfdetermination increase intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, self-determination research finds that intrinsic motivation increases engagement, while technology dominance research indicates that lack of engagement is an antecedent of technology dominance. Thus, applying self-determination theory as a predictor of technology dominance suggests that autonomy and relatedness associated with a task increase the intrinsic motivation to complete that task and consequently increase engagement in the task. Task engagement, in turn, reduces the likelihood of technology dominance. The proposed theoretical model is tested experimentally with 83 junior level business students. The results do not support the theoretical model, however the findings reveal that intrinsic motivation does reduce the likelihood of technology dominance. This indicates that intrinsic motivation as a predictor of technology dominance should be further investigated. Additionally, the study contributes to technology dominance literature by exhibiting a more appropriate operationalization of the inappropriate reliance aspect of technology dominance. This dissertation reveals that various theories concerning workplace technology and management control techniques have both validity and limitations. Labor process theorists cannot assume that all technologies and management control techniques are utilized to undermine the employee’s value to the organization, as Study 2 reveals that enterprise systems v and mutual monitoring lead to empowered managers. Likewise, proponents of enterprise systems cannot assume that the integrated nature of enterprise systems is always utilized in an empowering manner, as Study 1 reveals the increased performance measurement through enterprise systems can be utilized to limit managers in a routinized job environment. While the third study was unable to determine that the control features in technology affect the intrinsic motivation to complete a task, the findings do reveal that intrinsic motivation is directly related to technology dominance. The findings and theoretical refinements demonstrate that workplace technology and management control have a complicated relationship with the employee and that the various theories concerning them cannot be applied universally.


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Graduation Date





Arnold, Vicky


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration


Dean's Office, Business Administration

Degree Program

Business Administration; Accounting








Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Business Administration -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Business Administration

Included in

Accounting Commons