The Influence of IT on Organizational Behaviour

Buchanan and Huczynski (2010, pp.8-9) discuss the difficulties in providing a strict definition of an organization arguing that any group of like-minded individuals in pursuit of a shared goal could potentially be considered an organization. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will consider an organization to be a legal entity such as a business or public sector body which is responsible for delivering a service.

Woman sat in front of an eighties computerUnlike other innovations in the workplace, the modern computer has only been around for a relatively short period of time and the widespread adoption of information systems and computing technology in organisations has been a relatively recent innovation (White, 2002)

The implementation of information technology systems has resulted in fundamental changes to the way organizations operate and organizational behaviour. Some of these influences can be considered positive while some can be considered to have had a detrimental impact.

Often, the benefits which are perceived when a software product is implemented are not fulfilled in the long term, as is demonstrated by the notorious failure of many organizations to successfully implement ERP systems (Chen, Law and Yang, 2009).

An example of a system where the effects of implementation have had both a positive and negative impact is the advent of electronic communication technology.

Positive Effect

Although email has existed in varying forms since the 1960’s, the implementation of email and instant messaging for all employees was a process that started in many organisation as recently as the early 2000’s.  At the time it was implemented, it was a highly sought after technology as it was only a minority of users who had access to these software tools, and the roll-out was welcomed by the majority of employees. As time has progressed, the technology is still a fundamental communication mechanism in many large companies and public bodies.

Indeed, Kock (2001) identifies that electronic communication, specifically email, has had a positive impact on communication around process improvement as everyone gets the opportunity to contribute and comments and recorded.

Negative Effect

Conversely, the impact of electronic communication has been that fewer people will pick up the phone or leave their desk to speak with a colleague, preferring instead to email or instant message a colleague, often sat in the same room as them.

This appears to be a commonly found negative effect of electronic communication. Rocco (1998) identifies that the over-use of email as a communication tool can lead to mistrust. However, Rocco goes on to describe how initial face-to-face meetings can lead to improved communication in the longer term.

Implementation of social networking has been met with similar concerns. The aspiration is that the technology will enable more efficient communication but there are concerns that the technology will distract employees from the primary goals and functions of the business and a breakdown in face to face communication just as there has been with email.

 

References

Buchanan, D. & Huczynski, A. (2010) Organizational Behaviour. 7th Ed. London: Pearson.

Chen, C., Law, C. & Yang, S. (2009) ‘Managing ERP Implementation Failure: A Project Management Perspective’, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 56(1), pp. 157-170, IEEEXplore [Online]. Available from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4757373 (Accessed: 13 January 2013).

Kock, N.  (2001) ‘Compensatory adaptation to a lean medium: An action research investigation of electronic communication in process improvement groups’, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 44(4), pp. 267-285, IEEEXplore [Online]. Available from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=968108 (Accessed: 13 January 2013).

Rocco, E. (1998) ‘Trust breaks down in electronic contexts but can be repaired by some initial face-to-face contact’, Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 1998, pp.496-502, ACM Digital Library [Online]. Available from: http://dl.acm.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/citation.cfm?id=274711 (Accessed: 13 January 2013).

White, S. (2002) A Brief History of Computing – Complete Timeline [Online]. Available from: http://sophia.javeriana.edu.co/~ochavarr/computer_graphics_history/historia/computers.html (Accessed: 13 January 2013).

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1 Comment

  1. In the 70’s I am told that there were concerns about what people would do as surely computers would take so much work away. That never happened now people can just sit at a desk all day and hardly interact with a person as they send emails to colleagues within a few feet if each other whilst listening to their iPods.

    Many can’t even properly interact face to face anymore. It’s a growing problem that cuts to the core of companies.

    For the few that are working the frustration grows as you see people on social media, Facebook and even dating websites in work time and now we have smartphones some bosses are pulling their hair out.

    Whilst taking lunch today Inoverheard two workers talking from a university nearby and one shared with the other that she was proud to have done no work today apart from going through emIls and some efiling! She then talked about the great deal she had just got on her planned holiday to Jamaica!
    Shocking behaviour, people like this will always be dead weights, sadly new tech can make them even worse!
    Overall it can bring out the good in people but also magnify the bad and the bad is just downright bad!
    For me it is negative as people are losing the skill of doing business face to face. Not sales just everyday organisational stuff. Too many Android and Apple robot types for me today sadly!

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