Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Innovating with Technology: The Impact of Overload, Autonomy, and Work and Family Conflict

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

Innovating with Technology: The Impact of Overload, Autonomy, and Work and Family Conflict

Article excerpt


Innovation with information technology (IT) helps companies gain more from their IT investment. IT innovation by individuals can be affected by many factors (such as overload, autonomy, and work / family conflict) and developing a better understanding of these factors can help managers make better decisions about the work environment. Using Partial Least Squares (PLS) to analyze data collected via an online survey from the Pan-Pacific region (n = 233), we found that education, number of extended family members responsible for, and autonomy (work method and work criteria) had a significant effect on trying to innovate with IT. Interestingly, we found that neither work-family conflict nor family-work conflict had a significant direct effect on trying to innovate with IT. Our study found only partial support for previous studies that suggested gender was a significant moderator between perceived overload, autonomy and trying to innovate with information technology. The results of this study are important to both practitioners and researchers as they raise important questions about potential impediments to individual innovation with technology.


The application of information technology (IT) has become a fundamental component of organizational competitiveness (Ahuja and Thatcher 2005; Hamel 1998). Today's hypercompetitive, global economy requires that organizations be proactive in their utilization of information technologies, or face the possibility of becoming noncompetitive (Nambisan, Agarwal, and Tanniru 1999). Information technology innovation refers to applying computer technology in new ways or acquiring IT applications that are new to a firm (Swanson 1994; Swanson and Ramiller 2004). IT innovation often results from efforts of the information systems (IS) department, but can also be initiated by users (Nambisan, Agarwal, and Tanniru 1999). Individuals can apply existing technological features to a broader range of tasks; they can apply technological features to related tasks; or these individuals can apply technology to tasks that were originally bypassed (Rogers 2003). For example, an employee introduced to new database software might develop a department-specific database application to automate recordkeeping and reporting. Because of the potential benefits from IT innovation at the individual level, it is important that organizations understand what motivates or inhibits individuals from utilizing these technologies in new and innovative ways (Ahuja and Thatcher 2005).

Many factors, such as one's attitude toward applying existing technology in new applications, influence IT innovation by individuals (Fichman 2000; Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, and Davis 2003). Attitude is considered an antecedent of intention, which in turn, has been suggested to predict behavior (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975). The problem with intention, however, is that it can be swayed by perceptions of environmental obstacles, and these perceptions cause the individual's goal to become more difficult to obtain (Bagozzi and Warshaw 1990). The individual intending to innovate with information technology must then decide whether to try to achieve that goal despite the perceived obstacles that exist. Research suggests that work and family environment factors influence an individual's trying to innovate (Ahuja and Thatcher 2005; Amabile and Conti 1999). Ahuja and Thatcher (2005) examined the effects of autonomy and overload and the interactions of these two constructs on trying to innovate with IT. The results indicated that autonomy was an antecedent to trying to innovate with information technology, and the relationships between autonomy and trying to innovate, and overload and trying to innovate differed between males and females.

Our study is an extension of the work of Ahuja and Thatcher (2005) and investigates whether work-family conflict and/or family-work conflict influences an individual's trying to innovate with information technology. …

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