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Robotic Process Automation and Consequences for Knowledge Workers; a Mixed-Method Study

Abstract : This paper explores an overly optimistic and tenacious claim in the literature that robotic process automation (RPA) will only free knowledge workers from mundane tasks and introduce more interesting work. We explore this claim and other consequences for knowledge workers using data from a sequential quantitative-qualitative, mixed-method study in Norway. 88 RPA users from different sectors and industries where first surveyed to identify differences in utilization and effects from RPA. Then, differences were explored in 24 in-depth interviews in the public and private sectors, including financial industry, manufacturing, and oil and gas. Results indicate that RPA is used to either layoff or not reemploy knowledge workers, but also to empower knowledge workers with more interesting tasks. Private sector was different from public sector in that private, financial companies have experienced the strongest reduction in the need for employment. RPA often lead to layoffs indirectly, and to reduced need for consultants, especially in financial companies. In contrast, public companies use RPA more for innovations in their service production from increased quality in data registration, handling of invoices, and data migration between systems. We conclude that RPA is maturing as a management tool motivated by cost reductions from reduced employment, and we suggest propositions for further research.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 10, 2021 - 3:01:07 PM
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Tom Eikebrokk, Dag Olsen. Robotic Process Automation and Consequences for Knowledge Workers; a Mixed-Method Study. 19th Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society (I3E), Apr 2020, Skukuza, South Africa. pp.114-125, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-44999-5_10⟩. ⟨hal-03222848⟩



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