From high tech to human tech: Empowerment, measurement, and social studies of computing
“Empowerment” has become a pervasive term of art in business practice, particularly in the United States. The term traces its roots to the organizing models evolved by populist social movements, but within business discourse it refers to an emerging organizational philosophy that largely replaces conventional hierarchies with nominally autonomous teams. Proponents of empowerment frequently cite information technology as a crucial enabler of this shift without, however, spelling out fully the logic of the connection. A reconstruction of this logic provides evidence for the emergence of a novel vision of work-discipline, the empowerment and measurement regime. This regime is discussed in relation to market dynamics, Taylorism, and research on the social organization of information technology and its use.