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How online collaboration software shapes control at work? Evidence from news organizations

Afshin Omidi (Faculty of Economics and Business, Institute of Management, Université de Neuchâtel, Neuchatel, Switzerland)
Cinzia Dal Zotto (Faculty of Economics and Business, Institute of Management, Université de Neuchâtel, Neuchatel, Switzerland)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 2 January 2023

84

Abstract

Purpose

Online collaboration software (OCS), such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, has become widespread among news organizations as these tools help news workers collaborate across different locations and make communication more efficient inside newsrooms. While such technologies are increasingly employed as teamwork productivity boosters, the authors’ knowledge of their potential role in shaping control mechanisms and power dynamics within news work is limited. This paper addresses how different types of control may emerge within virtual newsrooms being operated by OCS. The purpose of this paper is to address this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper employs an interview-based qualitative method and provides evidence gathered from 20 interviews with digital journalists and media managers representing 11 online news media in Switzerland.

Findings

The findings reveal how OCS could lead to various control mechanisms in the workplace by directing, evaluating and disciplining journalists in specific ways. This study suggests that while OCS can be valuable in boosting collaborations among news staff, it might create a situation where journalists are less able to focus on their work and creative activities. Most importantly, OCS bolsters an “always-on” work culture in news media and removes obstacles for employers and managers to invade journalists' space, time and mind.

Originality/value

By focusing on three aspects of control mechanisms, including direction, evaluation and discipline, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the role of OCS in shaping control and power dynamics within news media organizations.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the editor, Prof. Colin Williams, for the timely handling of the review process. Thanks also go to four anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the earlier version of this paper.

Citation

Omidi, A. and Dal Zotto, C. (2023), "How online collaboration software shapes control at work? Evidence from news organizations", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-10-2022-0262

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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