New Technologies, New Skills

by Paul Adler

Fall 1986

Volume 29
Issue 1

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While managers tend to assume that the introduction of new technologies will result in a reduction of skill requirements, this is not always the case. On the contrary, there is often an upgrading effect. Using bank computerization as an example, this article shows that automation's effect is to push employees out of product fabrication, towards the periphery of a system of machines, and into interface and control functions. These conditions demand more responsibility as distinct from mere effort, more abstract reasoning as opposed to rote learning, and more carefully nurtured systemic interdependence as compared to the assemblyline type of sequential dependence. This article identifies the managerial challenges posed by these requirements.

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