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Feeling the Hardware: The Emotionality of Technology-Based Organizational Change
Unformatted Document Text:  Feeling the Hardware, p. 6 For example, ICTs have been framed as a steamroller (Koch, 2001) or steering mechanism (Myers & Young, 1997) for management aims, and as a battleground for duelling factions (Tantoush & Clegg, 2001). Such work implies that emotions are responses evoked in the heat of battle, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the frustration of powerlessness. Furthermore, when one considers the task of adopting and implementing ICTs, the emotional labour of managers and change agents is obvious. Introducing ICTs is by its very nature disruptive and threatening. Research shows that ICT spending often displaces workers (Gibson, 2002) and it is threatening because workers may find they may not have the skills needed to cope. Emotion may also buffer the stresses and frustrations of change. Yet, the emotionality of ICT-related processes has been largely ignored. Theory on both ICT implementation and emotion at work both point to the socially constructed nature of these phenomena. That is, neither emotions nor ICTs are objective phenomena with given meanings. Rather, the introduction of ICTs as well as experienced emotions are typically experienced as ambiguous phenomena to be interpreted, defined, and evaluatively labelled (Conrad & Witte, 1994). This ambiguity makes communication central to the construction of emotion and ICT’s. That is, through interacting with others we develop expectations, labels, and beliefs, and we negotiate these through continued interaction. Thus, it is clear that research on emotion in ICT implementation can be mutually informative. The study draws on both to explore the case of ICT implementation. Method The research uses the method of event ethnography (Krizek, 2001; Miller, 2002) in that I attempt to develop an understanding of a non-routine event. Similarly, the study may be seen as focusing on a series of critical incidents within a larger study of change in this organization. The goal of an event ethnography is to provide an “insider” view and unique insights into a particular historical event. Through a focus on meanings and identities as

Authors: Zorn, Ted.
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Feeling the Hardware, p. 6
For example, ICTs have been framed as a steamroller (Koch, 2001) or steering mechanism
(Myers & Young, 1997) for management aims, and as a battleground for duelling factions
(Tantoush & Clegg, 2001). Such work implies that emotions are responses evoked in the heat
of battle, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the frustration of powerlessness.
Furthermore, when one considers the task of adopting and implementing ICTs, the emotional
labour of managers and change agents is obvious. Introducing ICTs is by its very nature
disruptive and threatening. Research shows that ICT spending often displaces workers
(Gibson, 2002) and it is threatening because workers may find they may not have the skills
needed to cope. Emotion may also buffer the stresses and frustrations of change. Yet, the
emotionality of ICT-related processes has been largely ignored.
Theory on both ICT implementation and emotion at work both point to the socially
constructed nature of these phenomena. That is, neither emotions nor ICTs are objective
phenomena with given meanings. Rather, the introduction of ICTs as well as experienced
emotions are typically experienced as ambiguous phenomena to be interpreted, defined, and
evaluatively labelled (Conrad & Witte, 1994). This ambiguity makes communication central
to the construction of emotion and ICT’s. That is, through interacting with others we develop
expectations, labels, and beliefs, and we negotiate these through continued interaction.
Thus, it is clear that research on emotion in ICT implementation can be mutually
informative. The study draws on both to explore the case of ICT implementation.
Method
The research uses the method of event ethnography (Krizek, 2001; Miller, 2002) in that
I attempt to develop an understanding of a non-routine event. Similarly, the study may be
seen as focusing on a series of critical incidents within a larger study of change in this
organization. The goal of an event ethnography is to provide an “insider” view and unique
insights into a particular historical event. Through a focus on meanings and identities as


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