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Appropriate automation: Toward and understanding of robots and AI in the social services from an organizational and user perspective

Research project AI and robots are progressively introduced in the social services to meet he increased demand for welfare services. A six year long research program will investigate how automation can be introduced in the best way, how it affect employees, the role of leadership and consequences for users.

Automation in terms of robots and AI are increasingly introduced in the social services. This development has raised a number of questions among practitioners and academics, and little is know of how to implement new technology in the best way, or what the consequences are for employees and users. The aim of the program is to study the implementation of automation in the Swedish social services from an organizational and user perspective. The program will provide new and useful knowledge on what municipalities need to consider when implementing welfare technologies in the social services.

Head of project

Susanne Tafvelin
Associate professor
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2021-07-01 2027-06-30

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Computing Science, Department of Psychology, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Department of Social Work

Research area

Psychology

External funding

Forte

Project description

Due to the demographic development, social services are implementing welfare technology as one strategy to meet the increased demand for welfare services. Automation in terms of robots and AI are introduced to handle work tasks previously performed by employees. This development has raised a number of questions among practitioners and academics, and little is known of how to implement new technology in the best way, or what the consequences are for employees and users. The aim of the current program is therefor to study the implementation of automation in Swedish social services from an organizational and user perspective.

The program consists of four projects:

Project 1: Exploring the implementation process, determinants of implementation, and implementation outcomes

Project 1 examines the process and determinants for implementation of automation in the social services across all phases of change.  The project explores factors within and outside the organization that affect the implementation process and outcome. The project benefits from implementation science theories and has a mixed method approach.

Project 2: Automation in relation to work design and leadership

In project 2 we will examine how work characteristics and leadership are affected by the implementation of automation and how this, in turn, relates to employee health, motivation, and performance. The project is designed as a quasi-experimental study and data will be collected from social service employees before and after an implementation of automation.

Project 3: User perspective on automation

The third project explores how users experience automation in the social services. It is partly investigated how users perceive that the social services' efforts are affected by the automation, but also in what way and to what extent users can participate and have an influence on the design of the automation.

Project 4: How can we improve automation in social services? An intervention study

The fourth project builds on the knowledge gained in the other projects, and involves the development and evaluation of strategies to improve the implementation of automation in the social services including proactive design of work roles, education, and development and design of technology.

External funding