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Digital technology and governance in transition: The case of the British Library

Harris, M (2008) 'Digital technology and governance in transition: The case of the British Library.' Human Relations, 61 (5). 741 - 758. ISSN 0018-7267

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Abstract

Comment on the organizational consequences of the new information and communications technologies (ICTs) is pervaded by the idea that 'virtual' forms of production are synonymous with disaggregation and the 'end' of bureaucracy. This article takes issue with this view, drawing on case study analysis of the British Library (BL) to show the ways in which bureaucratic modes of governance are shaping scholarly access to information resources. This research produces two main findings, each of which has a strong bearing on virtualization and the theme of 'governance in transition'. First, radically decentralized 'virtual' forms of service delivery are dependent on heavily'managed' forms of capacity-building and information aggregation. Second, the digitization initiatives explored in the case study are embedded in an inherently contested and contradictory context of institutional change. Current developments in the management and control of digital rights are consistent with the commodification of the public sphere. However, the evidence also suggests that scholarly access to information resources is being significantly influenced by the 'information society' objectives of the BL and other institutional players within the network of UK research libraries. Copyright © 2008 The Tavistock Institute ® SAGE Publications.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Jo Wiltshire
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2013 12:23
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2019 00:17
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/5358

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