Sustainability (2018-10-01)

The Human Sustainability of ICT and Management Changes: Evidence for the French Public and Private Sectors

  • Maëlezig Bigi,
  • Nathalie Greenan,
  • Sylvie Hamon-Cholet,
  • Joseph Lanfranchi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 10
p. 3570


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We investigate the human sustainability of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and management changes using a French linked employer-employee survey on organizational changes and computerization. We approach the human sustainability of changes through the evolutions of work intensity, skills utilization, and the subjective relationship to work. We compare in the private sector and the state civil service the impacts of ICT and management changes on the evolution of these three dimensions of work experience. We find that intense ICT and management changes are associated, in the public sector, with work intensification and knowledge increase. In the private sector, ICT and management changes increase the use of skills, but at a rate decreasing with their intensity and without favoring the accumulation of new knowledge. However, their impacts on the subjective relationship to work are much stronger, with public sector employees expressing discouragement, as well as the feeling of an increased effort-reward imbalance when private sector employees become more committed. We find that this divergence is neither explained by the self-selection of employees in the two sectors nor by implementation of performance pay. We identify two partial explanations: one is related to employee turnover in the private sector, the other to the role of trade unions. These results suggest that the human sustainability of ICT and management changes depends on their intensity and on how their implementation takes into account the institutional context of the organization.