Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Human Side of Technology Project Performance: Effects of Satisfaction, Perceived Technology Policy, Task Significance and Training

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Human Side of Technology Project Performance: Effects of Satisfaction, Perceived Technology Policy, Task Significance and Training

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Socio-technical systems theory provides a conceptual foundation for testing five behavioral relationships in a technology-based project environment. Socio-technical systems emphasize work designs that focus on the human side of technology. Data collected from technology development project teams were used to test training, satisfaction and perceived technology policy as independent influences on project effectiveness. Task significance was also tested in the model and found to positively moderate training, but its interaction was insignificant as a moderator of perceived technology policy. These findings contribute to the body of technology and innovation literature and stress the importance of considering human factors in the design and implementation of technological systems.

INTRODUCTION

The structural role of projects is well-established within product development, innovation and technology transfer literature (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992; Cooper, 2001; Kim & Wilemon, 2007; Tushman, 1978). Project structures for these roles are typically temporary in duration, associated with change-oriented initiatives, and involve teams that are cross-functional in composition. The literature suggests that structural requirements for projects must vary to achieve technical and organization effectiveness and that the most common proxy for project performance is conformance to cost, schedule and quality objectives. Over time, research has linked project performance with a variety of structural attributes such as locus of control, team composition, decentralization, and informational configurations (Allen, 1977; Barley, 1990; Barzak and Wilemon, 1990; Lawrence, 1997; Tushman, 1978). However, with a few notable exceptions (Caldwell & O'Reilly, 2003; Doolen, Hacker & Van Aken, 2003; Drach-Zahavy & Somech, 2001; Keller, 200, 2006; Lee, Pelz & Andrews, 1962), there is a scarcity of research to substantiate the effects of behavioral attributes on technological project performance.

In the present research we investigate several behavioral aspects of technology transfer project effectiveness. Specifically we test the significance of training, perceived technology strategy, task significance and work satisfaction as antecedents of project effectiveness. We believe that behavioral inquiry will add substantial understanding to the management of innovation and technology transfer projects and that "people" issues will account for variance unexplained by more tangible notions of structural or technological configurations. We draw from the fields of organizational psychology and small group management to pose relationships relevant to the management of technology transfer projects. We incorporate a unique sample of Japanese project teams that are developing new manufacturing processes and technologies for deployment to various global production operations. We believe the results of our study are pertinent to organizations that increasingly rely on project teams to build sources of innovation for competitive advantage (Bawdawy, 1991; Clark and Fujimoto, 1989).

Japanese companies instituted manufacturing innovations that for years led world-class standards of excellence (Jackson & Debroux, 2008). Benchmark concepts such as the Toyota Production System, quality circles, zero defects and kaizen systems of continuous improvement are often viewed as cultural manifestations that were born in Japanese organizations as small group or project team implementations (Bird, 2002; Clark & Fujimoto, 1989; Trott, 2008). These Japanese groups reflect a collectivist perspective stemming from the centuries-old Confucian influence pervasive throughout East Asia ((Hofstede, 1980; Levinson & Christensen, 2002). Collectivism is a cultural mind-set that prioritizes the value of relationships and reciprocity between group members. Collectivism is the opposite notion of individualism where group ties are less important and self-interest is the prevalent norm. …

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