Agency in socio-technical systems: Coworking with artificial agent

Investigating the role of new technology is a continuing concern within organizational research. Over the last decade, advances in the field of artificial intelligence have made it possible for the passive objects to become active and agentic. This is not merely changing the work we do but also who does the work. (Social) robots, self-driving cars and smart ambient home systems are all examples of cognitive computing systems that are designed to work through tasks without human intervention.

While this rapid development contributes remarkably to changes in the organization of work, little is known how the actual distribution of tasks and decision rights within one socio-technical network affects the collaboration between human and artificial agents. After all, from socio-psychological perspective, the objective capabilities of these machines are less relevant than the subjective willingness of human agents to accept this collaboration.

This research aims to assess the extent to which machine (technical) systems can be integrated into human (social) systems. Organization theory proposes that for an efficient collaboration between human and artificial agents, two fundamental problems need to be resolved: (i) the division of labor, i.e. how to distribute tasks and decision rights among agents, and (ii) the integration of efforts, i.e. how to assure that efforts of different agents are aligned with the organizational goals. Drawing upon these two strands, this dissertation has a double aim. The first aim is to analyze the effective distribution of task and decision rights between human and artificial agents considering the issues of control, accountability and efficiency. The second is to investigate the socio-psychological consequences of this collaboration with regards to social agency and implicit social cognition.

For more information about the project and possible collaboration opportunities, please contact Setareh Zafari, opens in new window.