The complementarity of autonomy and control in mobile work

Amanda J. Porter*, Bart van den Hooff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper, we investigate how the use of mobile technologies contributes to the emergence of a complementary control system, in which both employee autonomy and management control are enhanced. We apply an affordance lens to understand the affordances (and constraints) for complementary control that emerge in the use of mobile technologies by both employees and managers. Based on a qualitative case study of the implementation and use of a mobile Sales Force Automation tool at a multinational company, we identify three informational affordances for control and analyse how these were actualised to enhance both management control and employee autonomy. Our study contributes to extant literature on the relation between mobile technologies and autonomy and control by showing the central role of mobile technologies’ affordances in redistributing informational demands and benefits of control in the interaction between managers, employees, and mobile devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-189
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • affordances
  • complementary control
  • Crispin Coombs
  • Michael Myers
  • mobile technology
  • Organisational control


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