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The fast-food worker finds refuge in a bathroom stall to respond to her boyfriend's fifth message in an hour. The human resources manager sees a colleague sending a stream of text messages during a meeting and quickly grabs her mobile to make sure she's also multitasking. These scenarios are common, but unique to the 21st century. Until the early 2000s, workplaces provided most of the computers and portable devices that employees used to perform their jobs and communicate with others. Today, people bring their own mobile devices to work and create new norms for how communication occurs in the workplace. Managers and organizations respond by setting and enforcing new policies that are intended to help them navigate the ever-changing mobile-communication environment.
In Negotiating Control: Organizations and Mobile Communication, Keri K. Stephens responds to the struggles of employees, organizations, and even friends and family, as they try to understand new norms for connectedness in the workplace. Drawing on over two decades of her own research and fieldwork, representing people in over 35 different types of jobs, Stephens claims that though people assume mobile communication is a uniform practice, there are underlying -- and often hidden -- issues of control and power at play, which shape how people are permitted and expected to use mobiles to communicate while working. The accounts Stephens offers reveal the many ways that these portable tools are actually used across work environments today, integrating information, communication, and data, and connecting people in expected and often conflicting ways.
Keri K. Stephens is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research and teaching interests bring an organizational perspective to understanding how people interact with mobile and communication technologies. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, is an Associate Editor for Management Communication Quarterly, and is a recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.