Managers have responsibilities for achieving organizational goals. In pursuit of such responsibilities, managers make certain decisions, deploy tools, issue policies, and engage in discussions and other actions. In the current milieu, managers increasingly have to consider the broader use of information and communications technologies — broadly referred to as digital technologies — in order to fulfill their responsibilities. The embrace of digital technologies in organizations is argued to be part of the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as data became central to both decision-making and operating models in business organizations (Schwab 2016). Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has led 60 countries to use digital tracking and tracing systems (DTTS) to track the COVID status of their citizens (Taddeo 2020).
According to Hess et al. (2016, p. 124), digital transformation “is concerned with the changes digital technologies can bring about in a company’s business model, which result in changed products or organizational structures or in the automation of processes. These changes can be observed in the rising demand for Internet-based media, which has led to changes of entire business models (for example, in the music industry)” (see also Liu et al., 2011).
Advances in technology dramatically impact pharmaceutical, biodata, and financial technology industries, among other fields. These evolutions have rapidly outpaced and outstripped our ability to develop relevant ethical and corporate social responsibility frameworks to guide organizational policies and, by extension, managerial and employee behavior.
Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, machine learning, blockchain, technology acceleration, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics, digital workplace, remote and home working, and corporate social media are changing the way people work, communicate, interact, exchange information and knowledge, and learn (see Picarozzi et al. 2018). AI, particularly, is changing the way people and organizations work and may question the same nature and meanings of work (Kim et al. 2021). Moreover, digital transformation is changing business models, organizational strategies and structures, HRM (Bissola and Imperatori 2020), management practices, and job roles. Digital transformation may cause unemployment, impact people’s well-being and dramatically transform contemporary organizations (Dengler and Matthes 2018; Braña 2019; Itsakov et al. 2019). The implementation of digital technologies in the workplace is causing the rise of ethical issues (Inverardi 2022). Digital transformation will have an impact on managerial roles and responsibilities and bring into question the primacy of managers (Schwarzmüller et al. 2018; Bongomin et al. 2020).
Digital transformation advocates argue for the significant advantages that will be achieved in efficiency and effectiveness by organizations who adopt artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, cloud computing, and a host of other cutting-edge technological developments, also in terms of enhancement of the digital transition (Gerard and Schillebeeck 2022). There seems little doubt that digital technologies can deliver such promise (Nowotny 2022). However, criticisms against the deployment of digital technologies have been raised in many quarters, especially as regards their impacts on human workers, customers, and other stakeholders. A self-driving Uber car killed a pedestrian in Arizona in 2018. The failure of the AI-assisted flight control system of the Boeing 737 Max has been investigated for crashes in 2018 and 2019 (see Brock and Von Wangenheim 2019).
Human workers have certain needs to flourish in the workplace, which include physical, cognitive, social, aesthetic, moral, emotional, and spiritual (Alford and Naughton, 2001). It is an open question whether and how digital technologies meet these needs or stifle them (Braccini et al. 2019; Kim et al. 2021; Nida-Rümelin 2022). This question must be addressed by practicing managers who are concerned about achieving not only financial results but also the preservation of dignity and promotion of well-being. From the perspective of humanistic management, a wholesale endorsement of digital transformation in the workplace cannot be pursued without a prudent assessment of the impacts of the digital workplace on human flourishing and the common good (Berendt 2019).
The Special Issue aims to gather leading-edge thinking on the human side of digital transformation. Specific questions which can be addressed by submissions include:
- How does the digital workplace affect worker motivations and development?
- How does the future of work affect employees’ well-being?
- What impacts does remote working (work-from-home) have on human development?
- How can managers use digital technologies to provide support for subordinates in accomplishing work goals?
- How can human workers effectively utilize digital technology in ways that achieve performance goals as well as well-being?
- In what ways can digital technologies lead to dysfunctional management control systems and micromanagement?
- What are the social impacts and employment effects of digital transformation?
- How can training, development, and up-skilling address the job loss threat of digital transformation?
- What is the role of human resource management in facilitating humanistic applications of digital technologies?
- What are the ethical implications of digital transformation on management decision-making?
- Digital ideology and the man-machine tradeoff: Is there a reasonable trade-off between digital technology and human workers? Or should there be complementarity?
- Does digital transformation lead to the flourishing of managers and their ethical responsibility?
- How can humanistic management help to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks led by digital transformation?
- How can managerial theory and practice help to protect and develop human dignity in the workplace in the digital age?
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Bongomin, Ocident, Gilbert Gilibrays Ocen, Eric Oyondi Nganyi, Alex Musinguzi, and Timothy Omara. 2020. Exponential disruptive technologies and the required skills of Industry 4.0. Journal of Engineering. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/4280156
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Itsakov, Evgeny, Nikolai Kazantsev, Soizhina Yangutova, Dmitry Torshin, and Maryia Alchykava. 2019. Digital economy: Unemployment risks and new opportunities. In International Conference on Digital Transformation and Global Society, 292-299. Cham: Springer.
Inverardi, P. 2022. The challenge of human dignity in the era of autonomous systems. In Perspectives on digital humanism, eds. Hannes Werthner, Erich Prem, Edward A. Lee and Carlo Ghezzi, 25-29. Cham: Springer.
Kim, Tae Wan, Fabrizzio Maimone, Katherina Pattit, Alejo Jose Sison, and Benito Teehankee. 2021. Master and slave: The dialectic of human-artificial intelligence engagement. Humanistic Management Journal 6: 355–371.
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Nowotny, Helga. 2022. Digital humanism: Navigating the tensions ahead. In Perspectives on Digital Humanism, eds. Hannes Werthner, Erich Prem, Edward A. Lee and Carlo Ghezzi, 317-322. Cham: Springer.
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Fabrizio Maimone is an Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Co-director of the advanced master degree program in Digital innovation and digital competences development in Public Administration at LUMSA University in Rome, Italy. He teaches courses in organization theory and design, organizational behavior, and organization and human resources management. His research is focused on complexity theory, sustainable and human-centered approaches to organizing, HRM and change management, cross-cultural and intercultural management, humanistic management, human-centered approaches to digital transformation, and new ways of working.
Benito L. Teehankee is the Jose E. Cuisia Professor of Business Ethics at the
Department of Management and Organization and Head of the Business for Human
Development Network of De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. He teaches
courses in action research, sustainable business, strategic management, and management theory. He has served as president of the Philippine eLearning Society and the Philippine Society for IT Educators. His research focuses on critical realism, action research, humanistic management, and reforming management education and practice.