Driving High and Low: Heavy Vehicle Drivers and Their Supervisors Facing Digitalization

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18291/njwls.132379

Keywords:

Learning & Competencies, Organization & Management

Abstract

Our qualitative study in two Finnish companies examines the view presented as part of the ‘employment crisis’ debate that digitalization is leading to a significant substitution of the work of drivers of heavy road vehicles. The main effects of digitalization thus far on the drivers’ work have been automation of individual vehicle functions, speeding up the communication among them and between them and their supervisors, and more intensive control of work performance. The study does not find support for the claim about labor substitution in the foreseeable future, but, instead, indications of a widening digital divide between drivers and supervisors, leaving drivers as bystanders in learning processes associated with digitalization. Although the results cannot be generalized without reservation to different types of companies or business and labor market environments, the findings of the trends in the drivers’ work and labor market position probably have broader relevance.

Author Biographies

Tuomo Alasoini, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

Research professor. E-mail: tuomo.alasoini@ttl.fi

Arja Ala-Laurinaho, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health

Senior Advisor

Marja Känsälä

Specialized Researcher

References

Agrawal, A., Gans, J. & Goldfarb, A. (2018). Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Altmann, N., Köhler, C. & Meil, P. (Eds.) (1992). Technology and Work in German Industry, London: Routledge.

Arntz, M., Gregory, T. & Zierahn, U. (2017). Revisiting the risk of automation, Economic Letters 159: 157–160. doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2017.07.001.

Asplund, R., Barth, E., Lundborg, P. & Nilsen, K.M. (2011). Polarization of the Nordic labour markets, Finnish Economic Papers 24(2): 87–110.

Autor, D.H., Levy, F. & Murnane, R.J. (2003). The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration, Quarterly Journal of Economics 118(4): 1279–1333. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/003355303322552801.

Autor, D., Mindell. D.A. & Reynolds, E.B. (2019). The Work of the Future: Shaping Technology and Institutions. MIT Work of the Future. Available at: https://workofthefuture.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/WorkoftheFuture_Report_Shaping_Technology_and_Institutions.pdf (Accessed 23 November 2021).

Baldwin, R. (2019). The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work, New York: Oxford University Press.

Berglund, T., Alasoini, T., Dølvik, J.E., Rasmussen, S., Steen, J.R. & Varje, P. (2020). Changes in the Occupational Structure of Nordic Employment: Upgrading or Polarization? Nordic future of work project 2017–2020: working paper 2, 2nd edition. Fafo. Available at: https://www.fafo.no/images/pub/2020/Nfow-wp2-2.pdf.pdf (Accessed 14 January 2022).

Bijker, W.E., Hughes, T.P. & Pinch, T. (Eds.) (1987). The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Bisello, M., Peruffo, E., Fernández-Macías, E. & Rinaldi, R. (2019). How computerisation Is Transforming Jobs: Evidence from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey, JRC Working Papers Series on Labour, Education and Technology 2019/02, Seville: European Commission.

Briken, K., Chillas, S., Krzywdzinski, M. & Marks, A. (Eds.) (2017). The New Digital Workplace: How New Technologies Revolutionise Work, London: Red Globe.

Brynjolfsson, E. & McAfee, A. (2014). The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, New York: W.W. Norton.

Daugherty, P.R. & Wilson, H.J. (2018). Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Davis, E. & Mathew, M. (2019). The Renaissance of Blue-Collar Work, Cognoizant’s Center for the Future of Work. Available at: https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/the-renaissance-of-blue-collar-work-codex5193.pdf (Accessed 22 November 2021).

Dempsey, H., Mann, J. & Chavez, S. (2021). ‘It’s not a normal life’: truck drivers warn of burnout as global shortage bites, Financial Times 30.8.2021. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/4e79e4ad-1f15-4a2d-a702-9ab21748f81c (Accessed 30 November 2021).

Dølvik, J.E. & Steen, J.R. (2018). The Nordic Future of Work: Drivers, Institutions, and Politics, TemaNord 2018:555, Copenhagen, Nordic Council of Ministers. doi: http://doi.org/10.6027/TN2018-555.

Ford, M. (2015). The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment, London: Oneworld Publications.

Frey, C. & Osborne, M. (2017). The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation?, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 114: 254–280. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.08.019.

Geels, F.W. & Schot, J. (2007). Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways, Research Policy 36(3): 399–417. doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2007.01.003.

Gekara, V.O. & Nguyen, V.-X.T. (2018). New technologies and the transformation of

work and skills: a study of computerisation and automation of Australian container

terminals, New Technology, Work and Employment 33(3): 219–233. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12118.

Gittleman, M. & Monaco, K. (2020). Truck-driving jobs: are they headed for rapid elimination?, ILR Review 73(1): 3–24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0019793919858079.

Gorz, A. (1999). Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society, Cambridge: Polity.

Goos, M. & Manning, A. (2007). Lousy and lovely jobs: the rising polarization of work in Britain, Review of Economics and Statistics 89(1): 118–133. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/rest.89.1.118.

Gustavsen, B. (2007). Work organization and the ‘Scandinavian Model’, Economic and Industrial Democracy 28(4): 650–671. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0143831X07082218.

Gustavsen, B. (2011). Innovation, participation and ‘constructive society’, in M. Ekman, B. Gustavsen, B.T. Asheim & Ø. Pålshaugen (Eds.) Learning Regional Innovation: Scandinavian Models, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan: 1–14.

Hasle, P. & Sørensen, O.H. (2013). Employees as individually and collectively acting subjects – key contributions from Nordic working life research, Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 3(3): 9–30. doi: https://doi.org/10.19154/njwls.v3i3.3009.

Helsper, E.J. (2012). A corresponding fields model for the links between social and digital exclusion, Communication Theory 22: 403–426. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2012.01416.

Holm, J.R. & Lorenz, E. (2021). The impact of artificial intelligence on skills at work in Denmark, New Technology, Work and Employment 2021;00: 1–23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12215.

Hsieh, H.F. & Shannon S.E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis, Qualitative Health Research 15(9): 1277–1288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732305276687.

Jesnes, K. & Oppegaard, S.M.N. (Eds.) (2020). Platform Work in the Nordic Models: Issues, Cases and Responses, TemaNord 2020:513, Copenhagen, Nordic Council of Ministers. doi: https://doi.org/10.6027/temanord2020-513.

Jesuthasan, R. & Boudreau, J.W. (2018). Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Kettunen, P. (2012). Reinterpreting the historicity of the Nordic Model, Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 2(4): 21–43. doi: https://doi.org/10.19154/njwls.v2i4.2303.

Kristensen, P.H. (2011). The co-evolution of experimentalist business systems and enabling welfare state, in P.H. Kristensen & K. Lilja (Eds.) Nordic Capitalisms and Globalization: New Forms of Economic Organization and Welfare Institutions, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1–46.

MacKenzie, D. & Wajcman, J. (Eds.) (1985). The Social Shaping of Technology: How the Refrigerator Got Its Hum, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Manyika, J., Chui, M., Miremadi, M., Bughin, J., George, K. & Willmott, P. (2017). Future that Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity. McKinsey Global Institute. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Digital%20Disruption/Harnessing%20automation%20for%20a%20future%20that%20works/MGI-A-future-that-works_Full-report.ashx (Accessed 1 December 2021).

Mazzolari, F. & Ragusa, G. (2013). Spillovers from high-skill consumption to low-skill labor markets, Review of Economics and Statistics 95(1): 74–86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00234.

McKinsey & Company (2017). Digital-Enabled Automation and Artificial Intelligence: Shaping the Future of Work in Europe’s Digital Front-Runners. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/Europe/Shaping%20the%20future%20of%20work%20in%20Europes%20nine%20digital%20front%20runner%20countries/Shaping-the-future-of-work-in-Europes-digital-front-runners.ashx (Accessed 1 December 2021).

Moore, P.V. & Woodcock, J. (Eds.) (2021). Augmented Exploitation: Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Work, London: Pluto Press.

PwC (2018). Will Robots Really Steal Our Jobs? An International Analysis of the Potential Long Term Impact of Automation. Available at: https://www.pwc.com/hu/hu/kiadvanyok/assets/pdf/impact_of_automation_on_jobs.pdf (Accessed 26 November 2021).

Ragnedda, M. & Muschert, G. (Eds.) (2018). Theorizing Digital Divides, London: Routledge.

Rifkin, J. (1995). The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labour Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era, New York: Putnam.

Rolandsson, B. (Ed.) (2020). Digital Transformations of Traditional Work in the Nordic Countries, TemaNord 2020:540, Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers. doi: http://doi.org/10.6027/temanord2020-54.

Schwab K. (2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Susskind, D. (2020). A World without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond, Milton Keynes: Allen Lane.

SVT (2020). Väestön tieto- ja viestintätekniikan käyttö 2020 [Use of Information and Communication Technologies by the Population 2020], Helsinki: Tilastokeskus. Available at: https://www.stat.fi/til/sutivi/2020/sutivi_2020_2020-11-10_fi.pdf (Accessed 12 January 2022).

Thun, S., Kamsvåg, P.F., Kløve, B., Seim, E.A. & Torvatn, H.Y. (2019). Industry 4.0: whose revolution? The digitalization of manufacturing work processes, Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies 9(4): 39–57. doi: https://doi.org/10.18291/njwls.v9i4.117777.

Tuomivaara, S. & Alasoini, T. (2020). Digitaaliset kuilut ja digivälineiden erilaiset käyttäjät Suomen työelämässä [Digital Divides and Different Digital Media Users in Finnish Working Life], Helsinki: Työterveyslaitos. Available at:

https://www.julkari.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/140828/TTL-978-952-261-948-8.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y (Accessed January 2022).

Upchurch, M. (2018). Robots and AI at work: the prospects for singularity, New Technology, Work and Employment 33(3): 205–218. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12124.

Van Deursen, A., Helsper, E., Eynon, R. & Van Dick, J. (2017). The compoundness and sequentiality of digital inequality, International Journal of Communication 11: 452–473.

Wasik, J.F. (2019). Winning in the Robotic Workplace: How to Prosper in the Automation Age, Westport: ABC-CLIO.

Weber, M.K. & Rohracher, H. (2012). Legitimizing research, technology and innovation policies for transformative change: combining insights from innovation systems and multi-level perspective in a comprehensive ’failures’ framework, Research Policy 41(6): 1037–1047. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2011.10.015.

White, M.D. & Marsh, E.E. (2006). Content analysis: a flexible methodology, Library Trends 55(1): 22–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/lib.2006.0053.

World Economic Forum (2018). The Future of Jobs Report, Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Zuboff, S. (1988). In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, New York: Basic Books.

Downloads

Published

2022-04-22

How to Cite

Alasoini, T., Ala-Laurinaho, A., & Känsälä, M. (2022). Driving High and Low: Heavy Vehicle Drivers and Their Supervisors Facing Digitalization. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies. https://doi.org/10.18291/njwls.132379

Issue

Section

Articles