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ICT-enabled Work Experiences through the Lens of Work Design - Bin Wang, PhD Completion

Bin Wang has received the excellent news that PhD thesis has been passed with two “A” recommendations from the examiners. Both examiners have indicated that Bin's thesis is deserving of a letter of commendation from the Chancellor of the University.

Bin started his PhD in 2018 at the Centre for Transformative Work Design, funded by the Centre's International PhD Scholarship. Bin was supervised by Professor Sharon Parker and Dr Yukun Liu.

In his thesis entitled “Thrive in a Digital Age: Understanding ICT-enabled Work Experiences through the Lens of Work Design”, Bin aims to understand the intertwined relationships among technology, human beings, and work.

Bin says:

Departing from the plethora of superficial debates on whether technology is good or bad, what has been omitted, yet is more important, is a comprehensive understanding on how technology influences workers, how it interacts with other factors in influencing workers, and what workers can do to thrive in the current and future digital eras."

"In other words, humans are not just passive recipients of technological changes. We, therefore, need move to a more proactive and less deterministic stance (Parker & Grote, 2020) which allows humans and technologies work in harmony."

To address the overarching research goal, Bin, from the perspective of work design, conducted three studies (3 articles). Article 1 presents an interdisciplinary review of ICT use at work and found that ICT use affects employees through shaping three key aspects of work design: job demands, job autonomy, and the relational aspects of work. Articles 2 focused on a newly emerged form of ICT, social media use at work, and found that the day-to-day use of social media at work was positively associated with perceptions of social connectedness, which was further positively associated with life satisfaction and task performance. Bin and his co-authors also found that the relationship between daily social media use at work and perceived social connectedness was stronger for employees with higher, rather than lower, workloads. Article 3 investigated the major challenges that people are struggling with in ICT-enabled work, and how work design could help workers thrive in a digital age. Article 1 has been published in Academy of Management Annals; and Article 3 has been accepted by Applied Psychology: An International Review.

In sum, this thesis reveals the effectiveness of the work design perspective in integrating the relationships among technology, human beings, and work in the current digital era. Implications from this research contribute to building a harmonious relationship between human beings and technologies in ICT-enabled work.

Bin explains:

“Technology is ever advancing and rapidly, which means that findings from the current research may lose some contextual relevance and may need to be updated in the future. Yet one basic tenet of work design theories will be unchanged. Humans should always be placed at the center of the technological and social systems at work, regardless of what and how technologies are used. In light of this, I am confident that future technologies will not prevent or limit us in any way from thriving in our digitalized work. Human beings will strive to obtain the needed knowledge, abilities, and skills to embrace any changes brought by new technologies or new ways of working, as we always do,”

Both examiners comments on Bin's thesis are as follows:

Examiner 1:

“After reviewing this thesis, it is my opinion that it (this thesis) contributes original and substantial knowledge to our understanding of information communication technologies and the nature of an employee’s job and experiences. In addition to the excellent literature review, it pursues interesting research questions that are well articulated and gathers and analyses new data. Moreover, it uses multilevel modelling and advanced analytical approaches to conduct statistical analyses of the data. By developing new conceptual and designing studies to test them, this thesis moves beyond existing knowledge in this area.”

Examiner 2:

“The candidate has provided a comprehensive, state-of-the-art literature review. The work of this candidate is excellent and impressive. I would even consider going for the judicium cum laude (with honor) if I was part of the supervising team. High quality writing (reads like a novel), advanced statistical skills, multiple methods and research designs. Very good.”

Reference list

Wang, B., Liu, Y., & Parker, S. K. 2020. How does the use of information communication technology affect individuals? A work design perspective. Academy of Management Annals, 14(2): 695–725.

Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J. Parker, S.K. Accepted. Achieving effective remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic: A work design perspective. Applied Psychology: An International Review.

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