Claretha Hughes (University of Arkansas, USA)
Lionel Robert (University of Michigan, USA)
Kristin Frady (Clemson University, USA)
Adam Arroyos (Grandslam Performance Associates, LLC, USA)

Managing Technology and Middle- and Low-skilled Employees

ISBN: 978-1-78973-078-4, eISBN: 978-1-78973-077-7

Publication date: 23 July 2019


Hughes, C., Robert, L., Frady, K. and Arroyos, A. (2019), "Prelims", Managing Technology and Middle- and Low-skilled Employees (The Changing Context of Managing People), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xvii.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

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Edited by Professor Emma Parry, Cranfield School of Management, Swindon, UK

The past two decades have represented a time of unprecedented social, technological, and economic change that has required a transformation in human resource management (HRM). Shifts in demographics, continued increases of women in the workforce, and greater mobility across national borders have led to higher diversity in the workplace. Advances in technology, including social media, have enabled new ways of doing business through faster communications and vast amounts of data made available to all. Mobile technology with its ubiquitous connectivity has led to renewed concerns over work–life balance and extreme jobs. These and many other changes have seen evolving attitudes toward work and careers, leading to different expectations of the workplace and mean that existing ways of managing people may no longer be effective. This series examines in depth the changing context to identify its impact on the HRM and the workforce.

Titles include:

Advances in the Technology of Managing People: Contemporary Issues in Business

Pamela A. Gordon and Julie A. Overbey

Managing the Ageing Workforce in the East and the West

Matt Flynn, Yuxin Li and Anthony Chiva

Electronic HRM in the Smart Era

Tanya Bondarouk, Huub Ruël, and Emma Parry

Work in the 21st Century: How Do I Log On?

Peter K. Ross, Susan Ressia, Elizabeth J. Sander, and Emma Parry

Social Recruitment in HRM: A Theoretical Approach and Empirical Analysis

Ginevra Gravili and Monica Fait

Title Page


Advances for Economic Regeneration



University of Arkansas, USA


University of Michigan, USA


Clemson University, USA


Grandslam Performance Associates, LLC, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use.

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ISBN: 978-1-78973-078-4 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-78973-077-7 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-78973-079-1 (Epub)

About the Authors

Claretha Hughes, PhD, MBA, is Professor of Human Resource and Workforce Development at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She received her PhD from Virginia Tech. She also holds an MBA from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, a Master of Textile Technology Management from NC State University, and a BA in Chemistry from Clemson University. Dr Hughes has over 28 years of experience in business and industry and higher education. She is a certified Master Trainer.

Her research focuses on value creation through the use of human resource development and technology development. She is interested in the impact of values: (1) on teaching and learning processes and motivation; (2) on organizational culture, change strategies, and leadership; and (3) on technology in the workplace environment and employee behavior.

She has authored numerous journal articles, 10 books, and many book chapters and refereed conference proceedings. In 2012, she received the R. Wayne Pace Book of the Year Award for her book Valuing People and Technology in the Workplace (Idea Group, U.S., 2012). She is the 2009 University Council of Workforce and Human Resource Education Outstanding Assistant Professor. She has won the College of Education and Health Profession’s Significant Research Award, and the 2016 and 2017 Department of RHRC Outstanding Researcher Award. Dr Hughes is Co-PI on a National Science Foundation Grant researching two-year college engineering technology and collegiate engineering preparedness.

Lionel P. Robert, Jr, PhD, is Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan School of Information where he was awarded the Carnegie Junior Faculty Development Fellowship. Dr Robert was a BAT Fellow and KPMG Scholar at Indiana University where he completed his PhD in Information Systems. He is the director of the Michigan Autonomous Vehicle Research Intergroup Collaboration (MAVRIC) and an affiliate of the Michigan Interactive and Social Computing Research Group, Michigan Robotics, Information Behavior and Interaction Research Group, and the National Center for Institutional Diversity – all at the University of Michigan. He is also an affiliate of the Center for Computer-Mediated Communication at Indiana University. He is currently associate editor for two journals: Information & Management and ACM Transactions of Social Computing. He is also the current general co-chair for ACM Group 2020. Dr Robert has published in journals such as Information Systems Research and Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology as well as conferences such as CSCW, CHI, ICWSB, and HRI. His research has been sponsored by the US Army, Toyota Research Institute, Mcity, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, and the National Science Foundation.

Kristin Frady, EdD, is Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Educational and Organizational Leadership and Development, Human Resource Development, College of Education and Engineering and Science Education, College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson University. Her research agenda focuses on how organizational leadership and learning in educational, community, and workforce development applications influence innovative and technologically infused educational programs and solutions and how they relate to educational development and improving access and equity through building educational and career pathways.

Dr Frady is currently a Co-PI on three different National Science Foundation grants researching two-year college educational technology and collegiate STEM preparedness. She is also PI of a national research evaluation early engineering curriculum researching career development and pedagogical impact on students and teachers. Also, as Faculty Director for Clemson University Center for Workforce Development (CUCWD) and the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES), Dr Frady has extensive experience in curriculum design, development, and implementation and has led a team in the development of digital learning tools to expand technician education capacity creating virtual reality tools, advanced e-learning modules, and iBooks and ePubs which have been utilized in secondary and postsecondary educational environments across the United States.

Dr Adam Arroyos is the Founder and CEO of Grandslam Performance Associates, LLC (GPA), a leading provider of leadership development, executive development, workforce development, organizational development, and nonprofit development. GPA engages its proprietary and proven serve2perform® methodology and technology to develop leaders, teams, and organizations driven and capable of achieving high performance in the global marketplace. He is the author of PerformanceGPA®: Achieving High Performance through Service (Outskirts Press, 2012), a book that provides a proven practice for achieving high performance through serving and engaging others. He has a broad base of experience that includes senior leadership positions in private, public, and nonprofit organizations, including Walmart Stores, Inc., JCPenney Co., SVI, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, and the ALPFA Institute. In 2011 he was recognized by HispanicBusiness magazine as one of the top 100 influential corporate executives in the nation, in 2012 he was a recipient of the “40 under 40” award by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, and in 2015 he was appointed by the Governor of Arkansas to the new State Board of Career Education and Workforce Development. Dr Arroyos has been profiled in national, regional, and community publications and is a highly requested coach, advisor, and public speaker.

Series Editor Foreword

Over the past 15 years we have seen a significant amount of discussion about the impact of technological advancement on organizations, managers, and employees. Both academics and practitioners alike have made predictions about the impact of technology on work, the workplace, and the workforce and have provided recommendations for a variety of stakeholders in relation to how they might benefit from technological advancement. This discussion has progressed from that around automation of manual tasks to digital transformation, social media, and more recently around artificial intelligence and machine learning. A growing thread within this discussion has focused upon the potential impact of these technologies on employees. Indeed, commentators have suggested both positive impacts in relation to flexibility, job creation, and opportunities for new skills development and negative effects such as issues relating to work–life balance, skills obsolescence, and job losses. There is little agreement on the likely outcomes of accelerating technological advancement; so this debate is likely to continue for some time.

Against this backdrop, there is also a concern from some practitioners and policy makers of increasing inequality and unfairness in relation to low- and middle-skilled workers. At worse, advances in artificial intelligence and robotics might worsen these issues as they have the potential to result in the automation of many of the tasks that these workers carry out. Despite these concerns, there is a lack of discussion in the academic literature about the impact that emerging technologies might have on low- and middle-skilled workers. This book addresses this gap, so I was very happy to include it within my book series The Changing Context of Managing People. I have included several texts already in this series that discuss technological advancement and their impact on work and on people management. However, this is the first that addresses the significant need for attention on the potential effect of emerging technologies on middle- and low-paid workers. I therefore feel that this makes a valuable addition to the series and hope that you will enjoy reading it.

Emma Parry

Series Editor Changing Context of Managing People


This book describes the rapidly changing use of technology to manage people, middle-skill, and low-skill employees. Virtual teams and AI systems provide unique opportunities to better engage middle-skill and low-skill-level employees. These employees are being required to enhance their technology skills at a pace that requires extensive investment of financial and technological resources. Understanding how to manage the demands of technology as it relates to the interaction of people and technology in the workplace will assist HRM in recruitment efforts and HRD in development and retention efforts.

The purpose of this work is to add to the knowledge base of human resource professionals as they grapple with the changing workplace through the rapidly changing introduction of new technologies. The pace of technological advancement is constant. Thus, HR professionals and researchers are constantly trying to understand how these changes affect employees that they are being asked to recruit, hire, develop, and advance within the workplace. The competition between people and technology with the introduction of artificial intelligence has created apprehension and anxiety among some employees and the general public as they try to understand whether or not employees will be replaced by technology. Self-driving cars and transport trucks, Amazon Go grocery stores, and other previously unimaginable changes are taking place. This book will examine some of those changes and look for research and practical implications of how people and technology can exist, harmoniously, within the workplace.

This book also provides an analysis of virtual teams, middle-skill, low-skill-level, and disadvantaged employee management that is not yet mainstream. Hopefully, this book will help to offset some concerns as the anxiety level of middle-skill and low-skill-level employees is usually highest when new technology is introduced in the workplace. Virtual teams are also continuously evolving as they have to adjust to new technologies and new employees participating in teamwork. Remote access to technology is expanding with the Cloud, Box, Google Doc, and other technologies that employees must continuously learn. Having HR professionals who understand these changes and needs will only increase an organization’s competitiveness as they seek to engage and maintain technologically skilled employees.

This book is appropriate for Business, Human Resource Development, Human Resource Management, Information System, and Workforce Development professionals and scholars. Chapter 1, “Introduction,” provides an introduction of rapidly changing technologies into the workplace that has made it more important for organization leaders to understand how to manage technology, middle-skill, and low-skill employees in the workplace. The knowledge of employees within these levels in the workplace is the least known. There are varying levels of influence in workplaces, and the dynamic between people and technology has implications for human resource professionals throughout the world as they grapple with change from technological advancement and human improvement.

Chapter 2, “Middle-skill-level Employees and Technological Environments,” describes how a majority of human resource executives report that their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance. Middle-skills jobs, those that require more than a high school diploma, less than a four-year college degree, and pay above the national living wage, account for nearly half of labor demanded in the United States. As technology transforms the workplace, digital skills are becoming increasingly important and in higher demand. In today’s dynamic workforce, managers are facing managing and developing interdisciplinary and multilevel teams while combating a technical skills divide (lack of qualified workers), making it difficult to recruit and retain a high technology, middle-skill-level workforce. This chapter focuses on addressing unique challenges relevant to recruitment, upskilling, and management best practices as they relate to integration of technology and middle-skill-level workers in a highly successful workplace.

Chapter 3, “Virtual Teams and Technological Environments,” identifies the challenges faced by virtual teams and offers solutions to meet those challenges. Basic underlying concepts behind virtual teams are provided along with the most popular forms of virtual teams. Organizational, crowdsourcing, and peer production/online communities are the most common forms of virtual teams. Understanding these basic concepts will help HRD and HRM professionals to develop virtual teams that are suitable for middle- and low-skilled workers. The chapter also presents the various types of communication technologies used in virtual [teams] along with the pros and cons associated with each type.

Chapter 4, “A Hiring Paradigm Shift through the Use of Technology in the Workplace,” addresses the graying of the workplace which is forcing a paradigm shift in workplace hiring policies. The baby boomers’ generation, with their large number in population and years of work experience, plays a large role in shaping the American workplace. As this large group of workers is aging, managers are faced with the need for greater understanding of not only how to accept but also how to reskill and integrate emerging workplace technologies into this older and experienced workforce. Additionally, HR researchers have suggested that organizations undergo a cultural shift in order to develop ways to compete globally using technology. Understanding the benefits of creating people advantage within organizations is described within this chapter.

Chapter 5, “Artificial Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Fairness and Job Outcomes,” defines AI as the ability of a computer system to sense, reason, and respond to the environment. Computer systems with advanced AI can engage in sensing, reasoning, and responding in the most complex and dynamic environments. AI systems are being adapted rapidly by organizations to help manage their workforce. The reason for the popularity of AI is twofold. One, organizations now have access to huge amounts of data (i.e., big data) about their business operations which can be leveraged to make more efficient and effective management decisions. Two, advances in AI now afford organizations the ability to capture and process this data in real time. Organizations can now incorporate the latest information into their decision making even in the most complex and dynamic competitive markets. Despite this, management through AI also presents new challenges to employees who are now both directed and held accountable by AI.

Chapter 6, “Designing and Managing Technology Innovation Training and Development for Middle-skill, Low-skill, and Disadvantaged Workers,” explores many factors that may influence training and development of middle-skill, low-skill, and disadvantaged workers. Within the United States and worldwide there are many middle-skilled, low-skilled, and disadvantaged workers whom training and development professionals must consider as organizations seek to expand their workforce and increase productivity using technology. Temporary agencies employ many middle-skilled, low-skilled, and disadvantaged workers; however, there is very little information regarding how effective these agencies are in developing these workers beyond the skill level with which they enter the agency.

Chapter 7, “Managing People and Technology in the Workplace,” explores how people and technology are managed in the workplace. It examines how data and data analytics in AI, human resource information system (HRIS), learning content management systems, learning management systems, and talent management software have become major components of human resource and workforce development. Middle-skill, low-skill, and disadvantaged employees are being asked to use their knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to evaluate and understand technology systems, technology resources, and equipment in the workplace. HRD and HRM professionals must understand the competencies (Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung, & Lake, 1995) and resources needed to achieve harmony and balance between people and technology use in the workplace.

Chapter 8, “Emerging Technologies and Trends,” describes some of the many implications for middle-skill and low-skill workers as emerging technologies and trends continue to evolve related to using technology in the workplace. Managers and HRD professionals are tasked with ensuring that employees can meet organizational goals and objectives that are in accord with the emerging needs of a contemporary workforce. As the twenty-first century continues to evolve, managers and HRD professionals must remain current in strategies and practices that are effective in managing people. This chapter provides insight and suggestions to researchers on the current trends in the field that could benefit from further research.


Lionel Robert acknowledges that his research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation [grant CHS-1617820].