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The extensification of managerial work in the digital age: middle managers, spatio-temporal boundaries and control

Hassard, John and Morris, Jonathan 2021. The extensification of managerial work in the digital age: middle managers, spatio-temporal boundaries and control. Human Relations 10.1177/00187267211003123

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Abstract

How has the experience of managerial work changed in the digital age? This two-phase (2002–2006, 2015–2019) study addresses this question by examining how middle managers perceive the spatio-temporal boundaries of their work to have shifted. Typically, such managers report change occurring in two directions: (i) the contractual employment boundary becoming stretched as hours completed inside the workplace increase; and (ii) this boundary becoming breached as managers conduct additional work voluntarily from locations outside corporate premises. Although such trends can be explained deterministically – the former stemming from corporate acceptance of consultancy-influenced organizational prescriptions (business process reengineering, lean management, agile management etc.), and the latter from widespread adoption of digital communication innovations (BlackBerry, email, WhatsApp etc.) – we argue that to achieve a more rounded appreciation of such work ‘extensification’ attention must also be paid to agentic forces of strategic and political choice. Developing this argument, and acknowledging paradox when theorizing spatio-temporal change, we suggest future research on managerial employment must entail documenting not only factors influencing the stretching and breaching of work boundaries, but also – given incipient political regulations and innovative surveillance technologies – others serving to strengthen and protect them, notably those directed at improving work–life balance and physical/psychological health.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Lficense (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0018-7267
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 12 February 2021
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2021 12:45
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/139424

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