In the conference paper titled ‘On the right track? Studying the use of biometric data to manage people in a sports organization’, Downie and her co-authors draw on insights gleaned from a comprehensive 16-month ethnographic investigation in an elite sport setting. The study sheds light on a new form of control enacted through the use of biometric data – a shared control of the body.
More specifically, Downie and her co-authors show how the temporal, intimate and decontextualised nature of biometric data triggers the need for a shared control of the body, whereby coaches and athletes come together to control the body as the main object of work performance. In particular, they follow the ways in which coaches and athletes negotiate towards this novel form of control, with negotiations around entrainment, revealing the true self and the degree of context required to make sense of biometric data. They finish by highlighting that working towards a shared control of the body is not without consequences, with coaches and athletes facing several unforeseen burdens.
The study brings implications for theory on organisation control and resistance, as well as for people analytics. Notably, the findings challenge conventional depictions of people analytics. Downie instead provides a more grounded understanding of what is involved when managing people with their biometric data.
Academy of Management
The AOM, founded in 1936, is one of the most prestigious conferences where knowledge is distributed on the most current research in the field of management and organizational studies. It has 18,000 members in nearly 120 countries worldwide.