Information and Communications Technologies, Coordination and Control, and the Distribution of Income

Frederick Guy, Peter Skott

Abstract


We consider the links between Information and Communications
Technologies (ICTs) and the distribution of income, as mediated by
problems of coordination and control within organizations. In the large
corporations of the mid-twentieth century, a highly developed division
of labor was coordinated and controlled with the aid of relatively underdeveloped
ICTs. This created a situation in which the options of
top management were constrained while the individual and collective
power of lower-paid workers was enhanced. Only in the late twentieth
century, when the microprocessor and related technologies transformed
the information systems of organizations, did improvements
in the tools of coordination and control race ahead of the growing demands
of coordination and control. These technological changes have
reduced the power of lower-paid employees, increased that for higherpaid
employees, and led to an increase in income inequality. Thus, the
more important aspects of new technology relate to the ‘power-bias’,
rather than to the ‘skill-bias’, of technological change.

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