Mobile information systems and organisational control: beyond the panopticon metaphor?

Abstract : With their ubiquity, mobile information systems (IS) may be used in ways that challenge the dynamics of organisational control, forcing IS scholars to revisit the panopticon metaphor and possibly offer new conceptual tools for theorising about information technology (IT)-based organisational control. Yet little IS research has offered critical reflections on the use of the panopticon to represent the control potential of mobile IS. This study investigates whether the way mobile IS are engaged in the workplace reinforce panoptic control systems or generate other types of control logics, requiring another conceptual lens. A qualitative exploratory case study investigated a consulting company whose professionals equipped themselves with mobile IS. The study reveals the emergence of a subtle, invisible form of 'free control' through mobile IS. Although consultants are mobile, flexible, and autonomous, a powerful communication and information network keeps them in a position of 'allowed subjection'. Free control is characterised by a shift in the location of authority, a time-related discipline, a deep sense of trust, and adherence to organisational norms that the professionals themselves co-construct. These characteristics, which render such control even more pernicious than panoptic arrangements, deserve more attention in further IS research.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 4:56:42 PM
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Aurélie Leclercq, Henri Isaac, Michel Kalika. Mobile information systems and organisational control: beyond the panopticon metaphor?. European Journal of Information Systems, 2014, 23 (5), ⟨10.1057/ejis.2014.11⟩. ⟨hal-01635808⟩



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