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Unintended Consequences of an Organization-Imposed Digital Divide: Mobile Device Use Policies at Work

Sun, May 24, 10:30 to 11:45, Caribe Hilton, Conference Room 6


Not everyone around the globe has access to a mobile device, especially at work. This study examines a US company with an organizational policy restricting mobile device access for non-managerial workers; producing a localized digital divide. Our focus group data collection and subsequent constant comparative analysis, allowed us to uncover a multi-layered explanation of the organizational implications and unintended consequences of this mobile device policy. Both the managers and non-managerial workers agree the policy is problematic and strategically ambiguous. Furthermore, the varied policy interpretations resulted in a productivity paradox, supervisors burdened by Sisyphean tasks, decreased professional mobility, and ultimately, fleeting organizational identification. This study expands digital inequality research to an intra-organizational context, develops a theoretical model grounded in the data, and provides directions for future research.