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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LUBS5326M Digitalization, Automation and the Future of Work

30 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Charles Umney
Email: c.r.umney@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: 1 Jan to 31 May View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module examines how digitalization and automation are shaping the future of work and management. It examines this topic from different perspectives and with different questions in mind. The first part of the course examines macro-level labour market effects. For instance, it looks at different theories concerning how automation is affecting the demand for labour. Are we headed towards a jobless future? What kind of skills are being increasingly demanded, and which sorts of jobs appear to be disappearing? How to understand the emergence of new forms of work such as the “platform economy”? We will examine different theories, in order to understand why there is such disagreement in analyses of the consequences of automation for labour markets, and encouraging students to develop their own ideas based on critically evaluating these theories. The second part of the module zooms in to focus on the internal lives of business organisations. It examines vital questions of Human Resource Management and Employment Relations, considering what automation and digitalization mean for them. For instance, what challenges and opportunities does new technology present of diversity and inclusion? How might robotization affect the balance of skills and autonomy for workers in their jobs? What kinds of problems might digital technologies create for issues of worker wellbeing, such as work-life balance or privacy? How might HR practices such as recruitment and selection need to change in response to artificial intelligence?Finally, the module examines different ways of meeting the challenges surveyed in the first two parts. It focuses partly on government initiatives, evaluating how approaches to education and labour market regulation may need to change, and critically evaluating influential policy proposals such as “Universal Basic Income”. It also looks at other organisations such as trade unions and employers’ organisations, asking how they have, and could, respond to the challenge of automation and digitalization.

Objectives

The primary objectives of the module are:
1. Equip students with the knowledge and skills to understand the extent and nature of technology-driven changes in labour markets. This includes enabling them to develop more critical and informed understandings that go beyond widespread utopian or dystopian statements about the consequences of digital technologies- such as the often-raised spectre of a “jobless future”.
2. Equip students with the knowledge and skills to understand how changes associated with digitalization and automation are likely to affect the internal lives of business organisations, with a particular focus on Human Resource Management and Employment Relations functions. Including understanding of how new technologies may contribute to new forms of employee monitoring and assessment, new methods of recruitment and selection, new challenges for inclusion and diversity policies, and other questions.
3. Encourage students to consider the relationship between technological change and wider political economy. Stimulate critical reflection on the ways in which the nature of technological change is shaped by different societal actors who have different objectives. Thus, understand the key debates and conflicts surrounding technology and work today, and feel able to engage in them.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:
1. Develop a deep and systematic understanding of the major authors, debates, concepts and theories relevant to current debates on work and technological change.
2. Master different theories concerning the effects of digitalization and automation on labour markets, including how they affect demand for labour and skills. Be able to synthesise discussion of these theories into a convincing critical evaluation, and identify what we still do not know.
3. Conceptualise how digitalization and automation affect the internal lives of business organisations with a particular focus on functions such as recruitment and selection, collective bargaining, skills and training, work-life balance, inclusion and diversity. Display mastery in synthesising different perspectives on these issues.
4. Critically evaluate initiatives taken by employers in response to challenges mentioned in point 3, accounting for complex and contradictory evidence, independently proposing alternatives.
5. Critically evaluate initiatives taken by governments in response to automation and digitalization, and propose alternatives, including accounting for complex and contradictory evidence.
6. Flexibly and creatively apply knowledge in order to produce original and independent interventions into policy debates around automation and digitalization. Find original and independent solutions to problems through research. Adapt this knowledge to context where appropriate.

Skills outcomes
Ability to read, understand and evaluate data relating to labour markets

Ability to evaluate and advocate literature such as policy proposals, and formulate responses in an appropriate way


Syllabus

Indicative themes covered include:
Automation and the demand for labour- evaluating notions of the supposed “jobless future”
New types of work in the digital economy- “gig” and platform work…
Artificial intelligence and HRM functions, including diversity and inclusion, work life balance, performance appraisal and recruitment.
AI and its relationship with human workers.
Skills, regulation and government policy
New technology and “green jobs”

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Lecture101.0010.00
Seminar101.0010.00
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

This could include a variety of activities, such as reading, watching videos, question practice and exam preparation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Your teaching methods could include a variety of delivery models, such as face-to-face teaching, live webinars, discussion boards and other interactive activities. There will be opportunities for formative feedback throughout the module.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words40.00
Report3,000 word policy report60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The essay question will require students to choose from a selection of questions spanning the module. The project report will require them to reflect on a specific problem identified through the themes of the module, to which they have to advocate a solution. So it will be comparable to a short individual essay but with a greater focus on independent advocacy of policy-relevant knowledge adapted to context (including reference to news reporting and cases drawn therefrom), rather than a review and critical discussion of secondary academic literature. Resit will be by 4,000 word ‘combined’ assessment that covers all module learning outcomes and is for 100% of the module mark.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:41:50

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