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Workshop 6 Speakers: The Use of Social Robots in Key Business Activities

Automation and Digitalization of Business Processes – Evaluating Benefits and Challenges

One of the main proposition in literature on AI and (social) robotics is that these technologies will cause a substantial amount of job losses – not only for industry workers but also for knowledge workers and managers. However, job analysis of knowledge workers and managers reaveals that these new technologies may not replace humans completely in their jobs but only in certain tasks. Distributing tasks among human and artificial agents requires a close interaction and collaboration. Since process management favors case working over switching between (human or artificial) agents - as switching carries error potential and causes set-up times or lay times which all negatively influencing performance - effectively integrated socio-technical systems need to be designed which consider whole business processes.

This paper addresses potential benefits and challenges associated with the design of such socio-technical systems. We identify areas where social robots and artificial agents could be beneficial (e.g. where neutrality and objectivity is required as for example conflict mediation, moderation of creative team meetings or difficult group meetings) and address challenges associated with the delegation of tasks to AI and social robotics in these areas. In particular we discuss issues of trust, overconfidence, control and accountability when in delegating tasks to artificial agents and social robots (delegation problem).

Michael Filzmoser and Sabine Koeszegi

Michael Filzmoser, Associate Professor at the Department of Organization and Labor Science, Institute of Management Science, TU Wien, Austria. His research focuses on simulation, negotiation and organization theory, in particular the analysis and design of coordination processes. His recent research and teaching projects address digitalization and automation in administrative, service and management processes.

Sabine Koeszegi, Professor of Labor Science and Organization, Institute of Management Science, TU Wien, Austria. Her research interests are at the intersection of technology, work and organization and cover amongst others topics of conflict resultion, flexible work arrangements, and socio-cultural implications of technologies. She is chairing the Austrian Council for Robotics.

E-mail: michael.filzmoser@tuwien.ac.at, sabine.koeszegi@tuwien.ac.at

Homepage: imw.tuwien.ac.at/aw/home/

Social robotics: Adding agency and physicality to technology

This paper discusses a special case of technological digitalization made possible by the emergence of social robots. It is argued that increased diffusion and adoption of social robots not only may have significant economic and social impact but also important implications for existing work practices and processes. When adding agentic and physical properties to digital technology, it seriously affects its wider business applications and implications. Despite an emerging dissemination of this technology, surprisingly little attention from the business research community has surfaced. The paper fills up some of this void and broadens existing understanding of potential implications associated with emerging robotic innovations appearing in different business sectors. Finally, the paper offers suggestions for the future research agenda.

John P. Ulhøi and Sladjana Nørskov

John P. Ulhøi is a Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark. His research focuses on how agents, acts, behavior, and/or applied techniques enable and facilitate planned changes in for-profit organizations. His work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Technovation, and Business Strategy and the Environment.

Sladjana Nørskov is an Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research interests revolve around organizational development, innovation management and new organizational forms. She studies mechanisms, processes and performance in situations where innovation activities are distributed among individuals in organizations and communities. Sladjana has published her work in international peer-reviewed journals such as Creativity and Innovation Management, Information Technology and People, International Journal of Innovation Management, Journal of Consumer Marketing, and European Journal of Innovation Management.

Chatbots in Human Resource Management

This paper discusses how digital technologies labeled social robots are transforming human resource management practices and how they will affect managerial practices in the future. In order to frame these questions we draw on a distinction between operational, relational and transformational human resource practices (Lepak and Snell 1998). Further, we apply an innovation management process perspective in order to distinguish between stages of comprehension, adoption, implementation and assimilation (Swanson and Ramiller 2004).

As our research setting, we have chosen the emergent technology labeled ‘chatbots’ in order to study how these social robots are deployed for ‘onboarding’ practices. We argue that the use of chatbots provides an excellent opportunity to examine the interaction between humans and computers in organizational management contexts. In particular, the artificial intelligence or ‘smart’ aspects of these emerging digital technologies are promising to become interesting future areas of research. 

Lars Haahr and Anna B. Holm

Lars Haahr’s research focuses on management of digital transformation within organizational contexts. Publications include: “Wrestling with contradictions in government social media practices” in International Journal of Electronic Government 2014; “Social media as organizing vision? An interpretive field study of how formal organizations respond to social media”, Phd dissertation, 2016. Prior to his academic career, Lars has had several years of industry experience.

Anna B. Holm’s research interests span across various managerial disciplines with the main focus on digitalization of human resource management. Within the HR domain, Anna has conducted research on recruitment and selection with technology, i.e. e-recruitment and e-selection. Her research has been published in several management journals including Employee Relations, Journal of Business Strategy, International Journal of Innovation Management and International Journal of Technology Management.