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Managing teleworkers : exploring the methods of control in three Italian case studies

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:41 authored by Raffaella Valsecchi
The subject of this thesis is employees who work mainly at home and who utilise technological tools, in this case the telephone and PC, to carry out their job. In distancing the workers from the conventional workplace, teleworking raises a number of important sociological and managerial issues about the conduct of work, especially as it relates to control, which is the focus of this thesis. The development of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) led to the diffusion of popular images, such as 'the electronic cottage', which emphasised teleworkers' autonomy and freedom. These ideas give unrealistic pictures of the control exercised over teleworkers. This thesis aims to provide a more complex and realistic account of managerial control. Although research suggested control by results is the main problem for managers, other structural and social factors affect control exercised from a distance. Examples include: the organisational and hierarchical structure of the work organisation, the lack of appropriate technological equipment, legal restrictions, the lack of a 'teleworking culture' and the 'eternal' employers' importance of workers' physical presence in workplaces. A series of management strategies, practices and policies have been re-shaped and deployed for controlling teleworkers. Other important factors for teleworking are self-discipline and self-management, and these are also explored. Three Italian case studies were compared: a highly bureaucratic public body, a virtual call centre and a small-medium sized enterprise. The theoretical framework of the 'Social Dimensions of Control' was used. This analyses control along four dichotomised social dimensions, which are: vertical/horizontal control; central/decentred control; external/internal control; visible/invisible control. These proved to be extremely important for exploring the new and complex methods through which teleworkers are managed.


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University of Leicester

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