AuthorWinter, Susan Joyce.
Committee ChairGutek, Barbara A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractTechnology is often presented as a neutral tool to be used when and where appropriate to perform work more efficiently and improve the quality of life. This dissertation explores the possibility that computers are distributed as though they were value-laden objects rather than neutral tools. This is done by focusing on the similarity between computers and income, because income is also distributed by organizations and is generally valued positively. The literature on organizational symbols is reviewed and evidence of the value attached to computers is presented. Previous research on income inequality is discussed focusing on factors empirically associated with income and on factors influencing the allocation of valued goods within a group. Earlier work on individual wage allocation and on the determinants of wage inequality within work groups is partially replicated and extended to the area of computer resources. Hypotheses regarding the distribution of income and computers are developed at both the individual and group level and the possibility that computer terminals act as value-laden objects is explored by comparing their distribution to that of income in white-collar work groups when computer use is statistically controlled. At the individual level, computer terminals and income shared many of the same correlates and predictors. For the sample as a whole, computers and income were slightly positively correlated and previous findings that characteristics of work and of individuals are related to income were replicated. The same set of predictors was also related to having one's own computer terminal, providing evidence that computer resources could act as symbols of status. Exploratory analyses indicated that the pattern of results differed by the organizational function of the work group and by job classification. Though use was consistently related to having one's own terminal, it was never the only factor involved. Group-level evidence of symbolic value was equivocal; previous findings regarding the distribution of income were not replicated and the pattern of relationships for computers was different from that for income. Implications of the symbolic value of computers for managers and directions for future research were described.
Degree ProgramBusiness Administration