"If you think your manager treats you unfairly, the thought might have crossed
your mind that replacing said boss with an unbiased machine that rewards
performance based on objective data is a path to workplace happiness.
But as appealing as that may sound, you’d be wrong. Our review of 45 studies on
machines as managers shows we hate being slaves to algorithms (perhaps even
more than we hate being slaves to annoying people).
Algorithmic management — in which decisions about assigning tasks to workers
are automated — is most often associated with the gig economy.
Platforms such as Uber were built on technology that used real-time data
collection and surveillance, ratings systems and “nudges” to manage workers.
Amazon has been another enthusiastic adopter, using software and surveillance
to direct human workers in its massive warehouses.
As algorithms become ever more sophisticated, we’re seeing them in more
workplaces, taking over tasks once the province of human bosses.
To get a better sense of what this will mean for the quality of people’s work
and well-being, we analysed published research studies from across the world
that have investigated the impact of algorithmic management on work.
We identified six management functions that algorithms are currently able to
perform: monitoring, goal setting, performance management, scheduling,
compensation, and job termination. We then looked at how these affected
workers, drawing on decades of psychological research showing what aspects of
work are important to people.
Just four of the 45 studies showed mixed effects on work (some positive and
some negative). The rest highlighted consistently negative effects on workers."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics