Employee Involvement, Attitudes and Reactions to Technology Changes *

Article excerpt

This research examines the relationships between employee reactions to specific technological changes and the job-related attitudes of these employees. The specific changes include the transition, by the organization's clinical professionals, from the use of laptop computers to smaller palm-sized clinical assistant (CE) devices and the automation of clinical pathways into the computerized documentation system. Both technological changes were implemented with the intent of increasing the efficiency of the clinical professionals. Results of this longitudinal study indicated that individuals involved in making decisions related to the technology changes reacted more positively to the changes than individuals with low levels of involvement. Further, the results of this study revealed that individuals with higher pre-change levels of role ambiguity reacted more negatively to the technology changes.

Technological Change

The use of technology has grown at a phenomenal rate within organizations (Jick & Peiperl, 2003). Consequently, organizations continue to experience changes driven by technology (Hsieh & Tsai, 2005; Parsons, Liden, O'Connor,& Nagao, 1991). This trend is interesting given that research fails to reliably link technology adoption to improved organizational performance (Goodman & Rousseau, 2004).

Gaining insight into employee perspectives related to technology changes might strengthen the technology adoption-performance link. It is readily acknowledged that the implementation of technology is prompting modifications in organizational processes, tasks, and the nature of work (e.g., Dewett & Jones, 2001; Mirvis, Sales, & Hackett, 1991; Taylor, 2004). Quite often, technologically driven change has resulted in an increase in the number of individuals who use personal computers as a component of their jobs (Igbaria & Parasuraman, 1996; Nord & Nord, 1994; Sheng, Pearson, & Crosby, 2003). This infusion of technology has had a tremendous effect on employee morale, changing the nature of jobs, and impacting interactions with coworkers (Agarwal & Prasad, 1999; Mirvis et al., 1991; Reynolds, 2004; Thach & Woodman, 1994).

Researchers have studied (1) the effects of technology adoption on employee attitudes (e.g., Hebert & Benbasat, 1994; Owen & Demb, 2004; Rossetti & DeZoort, 1989); (2) ways that organizations can improve reactions to new technology (e.g., Venkatesh, 1999; Wicks, 2002); (3) the impact of technology on individuals and their job tasks (Bhattacherjee & Premkuman, 2004; Goodhue & Thompson, 1995); (4) how technology impacts individual job performance (Goodhue & Thompson, 1995; Kontoghiorghes, 2005); and (5) the potential impact of certain employee attitudes on the adoption of service related technology (Hebert & Benbasat, 1994; Tsikriktsis, Lanzolla, & Frohlich, 2004).

Findings related to the implementation of technological change suggest that the adoption of technology changes by individuals is largely based on their perceptions of how the technology will impact their jobs. Consequently, it appears that individuals who perceive that technology changes will improve their ability to perform their job tasks may be more willing to adopt the technology. In addition, findings suggest that technology changes impact employee attitudes (Griffin, 1991; Owen & Demb, 2004). The purpose of this study is to more closely examine the dynamic relationship between employee attitudes and reactions to new technology.

It is readily accepted that organizational change impacts employees in a variety of ways (French, Bell, & Zawacki, 2000). Consequently, the impact of organizational change on employee attitudes has received considerable research attention (e.g., Gardner, Dunham, Cummings, & Pierce, 1987; Griffin, 1997; Lines, 2004; Saari & Judge, 2004; Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991). Research indicates that employee attitudes are related to how individuals perceive or react to change (Mossholder, Settoon, Armenakis, & Harris, 2000). …