Reconceptualizing Intelligent Automation: A Scottish Case Study

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis has been developed to inform organisational management and Intelligent Automation (IA) design teams of the mutually influencing relationship between humans and IA, and how the multiple ways in which this is understood by stakeholders can impact on how IA systems are introduced and used in organisations. Evidence on how IA affects all industries is rapidly increasing, with perspectives still influenced by technological determinism and industry-based hype. Secondly, while forms of IA such as artificial intelligence and robotics and their relationship to humans have been studied in science and technology studies literature, IA as a system is at present still neglected. Thirdly, although artificial intelligence and analytics have become a priority development of the British government, their combined use as Intelligent Automation systems is currently missing from public-sector studies. Using the knowledge extant in science and technology studies literature on the relationships between humans and technology, the study adopts a posthumanist case study approach to investigating how IA systems are understood and experienced by the staff and customers of a Scottish local council, using the concept of figuration. I ask whether there is a coherent figuration of Intelligent Automation in relation to Scottish Councils, what decision-making shapes the implementation of IA processes in the organisation, the emergence of IA figurations, and how IA figurations affect staff and consumer behaviour. The study shows that multiple figurations of IA co-exist within this setting, providing a theoretical framework for investigating them, as well as using them to understand how such changes determine resistance or increased adoption of IA. The significance of this study lies in informing IA literature with a structured approach for investigating how IA understandings shape organisational behaviour and customer engagement. Moreover, it helps model our understanding of human-technology relationships and boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
  • Hislop, Donald, Supervisor, External person
  • Cai, Jing, Supervisor, External person
  • Kazimierczak, Karolina, Supervisor, External person
Award date14 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2021


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