Knowledge Workers' Interpersonal Skills and Innovation Performance: An Empirical Study of Taiwanese High-Tech Industrial Workers
Tsai, Ming-Tien, Chen, Cheng-Chung, Chin, Chao-Wei, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal
While interpersonal skills have always been considered to be critical to the performances of managers and supervisors, recent trends in the workplace have extended the importance of these skills to virtually everyone in an organization. Flattening organizational structures and the movement toward working in terms and self-directed work groups mean that every worker needs to improve his/ her skills for influencing others. People now tend to fill broader roles in their organizations, rather than following specific, narrow job functions. These new roles require them to perform a wider variety of tasks and interact with more people in diverse contexts. This need for people to communicate with each other in the workplace, especially cross-culturally, is magnified by the increasing globalization of business interests and by the growing ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity represented in today's workforce.
Interpersonal skills are especially important in technical environments where employers want more than just technically qualified employees, and increasingly, soft skills, or the ability to deal with people, are required. For example, to meet the demands of increased competition, managers now expect their highly paid, highly educated technical employees to interact with each other, with members of the marketing department, and with customers.
Moreover, both for-profit and not-for-profit businesses in today's interconnected world need to look outside the organization and find partners who can help achieve greater results and build the communities required to meet the growing complexity of the challenges they face (Hesselbein & Whitehead, 2000). Most international, interorganizational, or interpersonal relationship collaborations articulate the collaborative effort as the primary method for achieving ideal goals that would not otherwise be attainable by entities working on their own.
While there has been a great deal of research into how firms seek to improve performance via collaborations, little empirical work has been carried out to investigate the influences of the collaborators' interpersonal skills during relationships. Moreover, although there are many human resources (HR) studies on interpersonal skill issues, most of them have been focused on organizations operating in a Western context, while relatively few have been focused on the Chinese community. To examine these issues in an Asia-Pacific context, the researchers consider the lessons learned from knowledge-intensive industries in Taiwan. Therefore, the researchers focused on whether or not knowledge workers in high-tech industries need more interpersonal skills to achieve tasks that have traditionally been viewed as dependent only on their technical skills. At the same time, the analytical results of this study can provide academics and practitioners with an empirical reference for further study in this field. The structure of this paper is as follows: in the next section the literature review and research hypotheses are presented and then the methodology is developed. Next, the results of the empirical study are presented and discussed, and finally conclusions are drawn in the last section.
Collaboration is an effort by heterogeneous teams to achieve goals that they cannot achieve by working in isolation. Collaboration has been widely discussed in a variety of disciplines, such as transaction cost economics (Williamson, 1975), relationship marketing (Hkansson, 1982; Jap, 2001), interorganizational systems (Alstyne, 1997; Browning, Beyer, & Shetler, 1995; Kuman & van Dissel, 1996), strategic management (Gajda, 2004; Gulati, Nohria, & Zaheer, 2000), supply chain management (Cousins, 2002), sociology (Winer & Ray, 1994), behavioral science (Logsdon, 1991; Sharfman, Gray, & Yan, 1991), negotiation (Eden & Huxham, 2001), and with regard to the factors that contribute to a spirit of collaborative alliance (Heath & Sias, 1999). …