Humanoid Resource Management
| Peter Klein |
I can’t quite tell if this “Schumpeter” column, urging management scholars to think more carefully about “homo-robo relations,” is meant to be taken seriously. It gave me a few chuckles, anyway.
Until now executives have largely ignored robots, regarding them as an engineering rather than a management problem. This cannot go on: robots are becoming too powerful and ubiquitous. Companies may need to rethink their strategies as they gain access to these new sorts of workers. Do they really need to outsource production to China, for example, when they have clever machines that work ceaselessly without pay? They certainly need to rethink their human-resources policies — starting by questioning whether they should have departments devoted to purely human resources.
And what about robo-agency theory? Can robots be programmed to be intrinsically motivated — finally rendering certain management theories intelligible — or do they respond to incentives in a predictable way? Are they risk averse? Will they behave opportunistically? Can they be “nudged” by clever behavioral economists?
Actually the article does make some serious points, e.g., economists and management scholars should prepare for an onslaught of neo-Luddite, anti-automation, protectionist gibberish about robots “taking away our jobs.” (Maybe if they’re domestically made robots it will be OK?)