Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

An Exploration of the Culture of Information Technology: Focus on Unrelenting Change

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

An Exploration of the Culture of Information Technology: Focus on Unrelenting Change

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the 1990s, information technology (IT) has emerged as an essential element in the business environment and has been recognized as a critical component of business strategy. Technology not only enables organizations to compete in global markets and to increase responsiveness to customers and partners, but also has the potential to transform how organizations operate by affecting the nature of work processes (e.g., Blanton, Watson, & Moody, 1992; Ferratt, Ahire, & De, 2006; Lee, Trauth, & Farwell, 1995; Masino, 1999; Pearlson & Saunders, 2006). The IT industry--driven by the speed of technological advances as well as radical changes in hardware, systems, and applications--exerts pressure on organizations at all levels, and professional, technical employees are particularly impacted. Technology professionals are expected to keep technical skills up-to-date, to keep computer applications functioning flawlessly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and to develop relevant, responsive applications that meet organizational needs (e.g., Biskup & Kautz, 1994; DeMarco & Lister, 1999; Gordon & Gordon, 2000; Longenecker, Simonetti & Mulias, 1996).

IT Professionals

In 2004, the information technology workforce in the United States was reported to consist of approximately 10,500,000 people, including the job categories of programming, technical support, enterprise systems, database, web development, network administration, digital media, and tech writing (ITAA, 2004). The most valuable IT workers are those consistently able to solve business problems and address business opportunities with information technology.

IT workers have been described as dedicated and involved in the work they perform for their organizations, and they express an interest in solving business issues (e.g., Melymuka, 2000; Ross, Beath, & Goodhue, 1996; Smits, McLean, & Tanner, 1993). The desire to make a contribution and to have an impact on the organization's success concerns these workers. When technology workers "aren't allowed to play an important role in their organization's success, are misunderstood and kept at arm's length by the business side or are given an unreasonable set of expectations from management, you can expect unrest in the ranks" (Ouellette, 1999, p. 50).

Mottl (2000) reports that for both IT employees and managers, "money isn't the only factor that's important ... The most important criteria for both groups are job challenge and responsibility level, flexible work schedule, and job stability" (p. 223). In instances where IT workers are not as satisfied with current salary levels, Radcliff (1999) reported that "training, or the opportunity to work with leading-edge technology, is why they stay with their current employers, despite lower-than-average pay" (p. 44). Melymuka (2000) states:

 
   In IT, you're either going forward or backward, there's no 
   in-between. Information technology folks who are moving 
   forward--learning new skills, taking on stretch assignments and 
   building their careers--are satisfied in their jobs. Those who are 
   unable to get the training they want or who lack opportunities to 
   take on challenging new assignments say they're unhappy because 
   they feel they aren't working to their full potential. (p. 54) 

In short, this profession requires that workers continually retrain.

IT Work

In a competitive environment driven by economics and technology, successful organizations must weigh the risk of implementing systems that employ new technologies against the cost of falling behind technologically (e.g., AlBanna & Osterhaus, 1998; Nunamaker & Briggs, 1996). The shortened market life of software products and accelerated time-to-marketplace also exert pressure upon systems developers (Sawyer, Farber, & Spillers, 1997). …

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