Knowledge workers’ reactions to a planned introduction of robotic process automation: empirical evidence from an accounting firm

Aleksandre Asatiani*, Esko Penttinen, Joona Ruissalo, Antti Salovaara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the initial reactions and perceptions of knowl- edge workers to a planned implementation of robotic process automation (RPA). Using purposive sampling, we conduct a case study in an industry in which workers’ jobs are notoriously vulnerable to automation: we study an accounting firm that is planning to introduce RPA into their core accounting processes. While our infor- mants did raise the expected concerns about job security and loss of control over work, the initial reactions to the technology were surprisingly positive. The infor- mants even expressed enthusiasm and genuine curiosity towards the capabilities of RPA. Overall, our results challenge the views outlined in previous academic literature and popular press concerning the fears and anxieties associated with the introduction of automation technologies in information-intensive knowledge work. To conclude, we theorize on the emerging positively dispersed uncertainty concerning the nature of RPA and the relativistic nature of worker reactions that potentially impact workplace atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Information Systems Outsourcing
EditorsRudy Hirschheim, Armin Heinzl, Jens Dibbern
Place of PublicationCham
Pages413-452
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-45819-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameProgress in IS
PublisherSpringer
ISSN (Electronic)2196-8705

Keywords

  • Worker reactions
  • Knowledge work
  • Accounting
  • Automation
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Case study

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