Diane E. Bailey, Paul M. Leonardi : Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 288 pp.$32.00/£22.95, cloth.
Bailey and Leonardi are leading ethnographers of work who acquired their reputations through meticulous fieldwork, comparative research designs, and insightful use of general themes emerging from the data to develop middle-range theory. All these qualities are demonstrated in this book, which summarizes a decade of research into the engineering profession, with an emphasis on product design work. The book compares the work of automotive design engineers, software engineers, and structural engineers; the technologies they choose to employ in their daily work; and the division of labor that structures their work.
The book contributes to organizational literature in at least three meaningful ways. First, it provides an important description of design engineering work, highlighting its heterogeneity. Second, it identifies key factors that shape the choices engineering specialists make regarding their work tools. Third, it lays the grounds for a theory that can explain and even predict why and how occupations make decisions about the technologies they will use in their daily work. This theory is grounded in core elements of occupations, such as distinct skills and local divisions of labor, as well as in the surrounding environment, where variables such as market forces and institutional factors influence technological choice.
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