AMD Special Research Forum: The Human Side of the Future of Work

In management, research on this topic includes alternative work arrangements, telecommuting, artificial intelligence, work and employment policy, generational differences in values, and more.

Special Research Forum

The Human Side of the Future of Work:

Understanding the Role People Play in Shaping a Changing World

AMD Editors:

  • Jochen Menges (University of Zurich)
  • Susan Cohen (University of Pittsburgh)

Guest Editors:

  • Erika Hall (Emory Goizueta Business School)
  • Lauren Howe (University of Zurich)
  • Jon Jachimowicz (Harvard Business School)
  • Sharon Parker (Curtin University)
  • Riki Takeuchi (UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management)
  • Abhijeet Vadera (Singapore Management University)
  • Ashley Whillans (Harvard Business School)

The future of work is a theme that is receiving increasing attention in the business world. The future of work refers to how work will change in the coming decades because of, for example, advances in technology (e.g., robotics, artificial intelligence), demographic changes (e.g., aging populations, racial demographics), and other societal trends (e.g., shifting values, increasing inequality). In academia, a set of disciplines have embraced the study of the future of work. For example, economists have examined trends in society to predict how labor markets will change and what skills will be most desirable (Autor & Dorn, 2013; Frey & Osborne, 2017); computer scientists have explored technological developments like on-demand platform work (Blaising, Kotturi, & Kulkarni, 2019); and legal scholars have considered the consequences of changing employment relationships (Aloisi & De Stefano, 2020). In management, research relevant to the topic of the future of work captures a range of topics from alternative work arrangements (Petriglieri & Ashford, 2019; Spreitzer, Cameron, & Garrett, 2017) to telecommuting (Choudhury, Foroughi, & Larson, 2020), artificial intelligence (von Krogh, 2018), work and employment policy (Kochan, 2015), generational differences in values (Twenge, Campbell, Hoffman, & Lance, 2010), and more. The study of the future of work thus allows for a rich set of questions that can be analyzed across disciplines and within various contexts. 

Despite ongoing efforts to examine the future of work, the relevant body of knowledge, especially in management, remains underdeveloped. There is a lack of consensus in the management field on what the future of work entails (Santana & Cobo, 2020), and many areas of the future of work remain underexplored. For example, the majority of published studies have focused on societal trends and consequences relevant to the future of work, mostly examining technological innovations and inequality as drivers of change in the future of work with a smaller number examining the role of demographics and the environment (e.g., climate change) (Balliester & Elsheikhi, 2018). However, there is the opportunity to learn much about the future of work from studies concerning, for example, how organizations and individuals prepare for a changing world of work. In addition, the “status quo” of organizations risks leading us into a future of work that perpetuates inequalities, if problematic practices are not reexamined and rethought (e.g., Amis, Mair, & Munir, 2020). To create a coherent body of knowledge on the future of work in management, further studies are needed across the micro, meso, and macro levels, as well as studies that bridge these levels. In addition, rather than viewing human actors as passive recipients of technological advancements and large-scale societal trends, it is important to develop an understanding of how people actively react to, contribute to, and shape the changing world of work in meaningful ways. Thus, a greater focus on people in the study of the future of work is warranted.

This SRF thus focuses on conceptualizing and examining the role that employees, managers, and leaders play in helping to create the future of work, with a special emphasis on the exploration and discovery of solutions to shape, rather than merely await, the future of work. The aim of the SRF is to bring scholarly attention to the human side of the future of work: how individuals, organizations, and society feel about, make sense of, and ultimately react to the changing world of work, as well as how these actors can serve as drivers in the changing world of work. By bringing together scholars, our hope is that the SRF will foster a growing conversation and catalyze research and theory development in these areas.

Papers for the SRF can come from a broad range of disciplines. Within management and organizational research, contributions related to the role of human cognition, emotion, and behavior in the future of work, advances in HR practices and processes, ethical and social responsibilities in the future of work, managing change in organizations, technological innovation and management, and diversity and inclusion in the future of work would be gladly received. We strongly encourage interdisciplinary work. For example, perspectives from psychology, economics, human-computer interaction, education, health care, communication, and sociology can further contribute to the mission of the SRF. 

Finally, we invite manuscripts that engage with critical topics where humans have the potential to influence the course of the future of work, including reactions to new technologies, the work people do, with whom people work, when, where and how people work, and why people work, as well as manuscripts that offer solutions for methodological challenges and suggestions for methodological innovations in research on the future of work.  

The following questions are indicative (but not exhaustive) of the areas of focus for this call for papers.

How do people feel about and respond to the future of work?

  • How do people feel about the future of work and how do these emotions affect behavior? Do people across organizations or geographic regions converge in feelings associated with their future, and what effect do such feelings have?
  • What encourages or hinders the use of new technologies or new ways of working in organizations? How do these changes affect or alter human needs at work?
  • How are advances in methods and analytical tools (e.g., computational psychology, people analytics, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning) changing human experiences in the future world of work?
  • How are predictive people analytics likely to change the HR profession and shape HR practices in the future? How do leaders use data to make choices about people?

What will be the nature of work?

  • What individual-level factors (e.g., abilities, personality) and organizational-level factors (e.g., structures, processes, culture) help or hinder individuals from adjusting as occupations change? How do beliefs about career paths shape adjustment to the future world of work?
  • How do people cope with and navigate the uncertainties of a rapidly changing world of work? What is the role of resilience and adaptivity in responding effectively to change, and how can these dispositions be assessed and nurtured?
  • How can managers and organizations address ethical issues raised by the changing nature of work (e.g., changing employment contracts, use of personal data)?
  • What role does “lifelong learning,” or ongoing, voluntary, self-motivated learning pursuits, play in the future of work? How can organizations create “learning cultures” to encourage employees to take charge of their own up- and reskilling?
  • Which entities are best placed to address skills flexibility and up-/reskilling in national, state, and community talent pools? What role do public–private partnerships play, and how can programs be designed across multiple stakeholders?

What work will people do (or not do)?

  • With technological advancements automating certain jobs, what jobs will remain for people? What skillsets will be needed in these jobs? What role will technical and digital skills play in relation to social and emotional skills?
  • Which work can be effectively delegated to robots, and which requires a “human touch” more than might be anticipated? Can robots credibly display empathy, emotional intelligence, and social skills?
  • How can robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies be effectively integrated into the workplace (e.g., human–robot collaboration)?
  • How will technological advances displace workers, and how can we avoid adverse consequences (e.g., increased inequality) prompted by these changes?

With whom will people work?

  • How do changing demographics (e.g., gender, race, socioeconomic status) shape the future of work and leadership dynamics, and how can a more nuanced understanding of identity help society shape a better future of work?
  • How can diversity, inclusion, and belonging be fostered to address long-standing gender, racial, economic, and other inequities in the workplace?
  • How are concepts of employees, coworkers, and bosses changing, and how does this affect organizational dynamics? How can new technologies become involved in leadership tasks, and how does this change the nature of leadership?

When, where, and how will people work?

  • How do employees structure their time in a changing world of work, and how can time use be optimized? How can algorithms help with time use?
  • How do people respond to non-traditional work schedules, and how do these changes in the structure of work affect individual and organizational outcomes?
  • How can workplaces be structured to most effectively benefit employees and organizations? What does the organization of the future look like?
  • How can employees, employers, and society foster well-being, collaboration, productivity, and innovation given new ways of working (e.g., platform work, freelance work, remote work)?
  • How can employees, managers, and leaders connect in more remote and geographically distributed working formats? How can hybrid teams work effectively when some employees are located onsite, and others join virtually from offsite locations?
  • How does the office of the future look? What will be the best use of office space? What work will people do in the office, and what work will be done elsewhere?

Why will people work?

  • How do individuals’ and organizations’ values (e.g., equality, sustainability) play a role in and shape the future of work? How are these values enacted or displayed?
  • How are employee needs changing over time, and how can managers act, and workplaces be structured, to meet employees’ needs?
  • How are people’s motivations at work changing, and how can managers and organizations best harness motivation at work? What is the role of the family in motivating employees in the future, and how can organizations change to foster family motivation?
  • What role do concepts like employee well-being and mental health play in the future of work? Do happiness programs in organizations deliver desired results?
  • How can people allocate their time and energy between their employer(s), their family, their community, and themselves? What complementarities may result from a mix of work, and what upsides and downsides will people who engage in several different types of work experience?

Initial Submission Window: 1 May 2022 to 31 May 2022


About AMD: AMD is a premier journal for the empirical exploration of data describing or investigating compelling phenomena. AMD is not a journal for deductive theorizing or hypothesis testing. Authors are encouraged to present findings without the need to “reverse engineer” any theoretical framework or hypotheses (HARKing). AMD publishes discoveries resulting from the data mining of both quantitative and qualitative data sources. AMD articles are phenomenon-forward rather than theory-forward. This means that AMD papers look quite different than articles sent to other empirical journals. The goal at the front end of an AMD paper should primarily be to demonstrate the novelty/interestingness of the phenomenon and why current theory fails to explain the phenomenon. It is in the discussion of an AMD paper where a plausible theoretical explanation—the theoretical contribution—is provided. The goal of every AMD paper is that the discoveries derived from the empirical exploration will open new lines of research inquiry. 

For further information about the goals of AMD and for recent publications, please see: https://aom.org/amd.

Submission Guidelines: Standard guidelines apply to papers sent in under this SRF. Manuscripts may be submitted as traditional papers or as Discoveries-in-Brief . Discoveries-in-Brief are crafted in more creative and engaging ways than traditional papers. When composing such manuscripts, we encourage authors to relax their use of traditional headings and traditional “academic writing” in order to create a compelling narrative from start to finish. More information about Discoveries-in-Brief can be found on the AMD website and in Dane & Rockmann (2021).

Review Process: Articles chosen for review will be sent to at least two reviewers with domain expertise. Articles chosen for acceptance will be published in one or more issues depending on the rate of submissions and the timeliness of the review process. 

References

Aloisi, A., & De Stefano, V. 2020. Regulation and the future of work: The employment relationship as an innovation facilitator. International Labour Review, 159(1): 47-69.

Amis, J.M., Mair, J., & Munir, K. A. 2020. The organizational reproduction of inequality. Academy of Management Annals, 14(1): 195-230.

Autor, D. H., & Dorn, D. 2013. The growth of low-skill service jobs and the polarization of the US labor market. American Economic Review, 103(5): 1553-1597.

Balliester, T., & Elsheikhi, A. 2018. The future of work: A literature review. Research Department Working Paper No. 29, International Labour Office.

Blaising, A., Kotturi, Y., & Kulkarni, C. 2019. Navigating uncertainty in the future of work: Information-seeking and critical events among online freelancers. Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Glasgow, UK, Proceedings, 19: 1-6.

Choudhury, P., Foroughi, C., & Larson, B. 2021. Work-from-anywhere: The productivity effects of geographic flexibility. Strategic Management Journal, 42(4): 655-683.

Dane, E., & Rockmann, K.W. 2021. Listen up! Revitalizing our writing to stir our readers and supercharge our thinking. Academy of Management Discoveries, 7(2): 1-7.

Frey, C., & Osborne, M. 2017. The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114: 254-280.

Kochan, T. A. 2015. Shaping the future of work: What future worker, business, government, and education leaders need to do for all to prosper. New York: Business Expert Press.

Petriglieri, G., & Ashford, S. J. 2019. Agony and ecstasy in the gig economy: Cultivating holding environments for precarious and personalized work identities. Administrative Science Quarterly, 64(1): 23-41.

Spreitzer, G. M., Cameron, L., & Garrett, L. 2017. Alternative work arrangements: Two images of the new world of work. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4: 473-499.

Twenge, J. M., Campbell, S. M., Hoffman, B. J., & Lance, C. E. 2010. Generational differences in work values: Leisure and extrinsic values increasing, social and instrinsic values decreasing. Journal of Management, 36(5): 1117-1142.

von Krogh, G. 2018. Artificial intelligence in organizations: New opportunities for phenomenon-based theorizing. Academy of Management Discoveries, 4(4): 404-409.