Study 1: Business Technology Use

Rosen, L.D. & Weil, M.M.

Overview

 

Using a structured questionnaire and a personal interview, 543 businesspeople were studied including clerical workers (39%), managers (54%) and executives (7%). The questionnaire included measures assessing: (1) use of technology in the workplace, (2) computer training, (3) online utilization, (4) use of technology after standard work hours, (5) psychological reactions to technology, (6) stressors and benefits from workplace technology (open-ended interview questions) and (7) demographics.

 

The following graphs and tables show results of this study presented in July 1996 at the Stress and Anxiety Research Society Meetings in Graz, Austria.

 

FIGURE 1: REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY BY BUSINESS PEOPLE

 

Research by our lab (see our recent book chapter in the list of references included in this web site) and others (MCI, consumer research) has shown that people react to technology in a characteristic fashion. Some are Eager Adopters who embrace technology as soon as it is released. The Eager Adopters enjoy technology, expect it to have problems and find solving the problems stimulating and fun. About 10%-15% of the population are Eager Adopters (MCI's 1994 study of business executives found 12%)

 Hesitant "Prove Its" form the largest group (50%-60% in general; 59% in MCI's study). Hesitant "Prove Its" are not anti-technology, nor are they usually technophobic (although they may be). Rather, they are waiting on the sidelines for someone to show them how technology can help them. They want to know how technology will specifically make their life easier. Hesitant "Prove Its" know that technology has problems and they do not necessarily enjoy dealing with those problems. They would rather wait on the sidelines until there are no problems.

Resisters still make up 30%-40% of the population (29% in MCI's study). Resisters avoid technology. They do not like it, want it or find it enjoyable. They know that technology has problems and take technological snafus as reflecting a personal shortcoming. Although many Resisters are technophobic, some are not.

 

October 1995

Clerical/Support Staff:
Eager Adopters

32%

Hesitant "Prove-Its"

59%

Resisters

9%

 
Managers/Executives:
Eager Adopters

42%

Hesitant "Prove-Its"

52%

Resisters

6%

The table above shows that this sample was somewhat different from the standard population breakdown. In each group (clerical, managerial and executive) there were more Eager Adopters and fewer Resisters. We have since completed a follow-up study of another 500 or so businesspeople and will be examining these data to see if this trend continues. Perhaps this is a reflection of the technological changes our society has seen in the last few years.

 

FIGURE 2: BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY USED IN THE OFFICE

 

The next figure indicates the percentage of the entire sample who used specific types of technology in the workplace. Strikingly, nearly three-fourths are using a computer and 61% have used a fax machine. Nearly half are using electronic mail while only a small percentage use online services (AOL, Compuserve, etc.) and the Internet. No differences were found across groups.

 

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

 

TABLE 1: BEST PREDICTORS OF TECHNOLOGY USE

 

Discriminant Function Analyses were used to determine, for the entire sample, what factors best predicted whether someone would or would not use a particular form of technology in the workplace. Potential discriminator variables included job position, company size, supervisory role, age, gender, marital status, children living at home, income, education, ethnic background and a composite measure that assessed psychological reactions to technology. This latter measure was formed through factor analytic techniques from a variety of questionnaire items reflecting anxiety, attitudes and cognitions toward technology.

The forms of technology are arranged in order from least technologically complex (cellular phone) to most technologically complex (Internet use). For each technology, the significant discriminators are listed with their beta weights reflecting the relative weights of each. As is evident from the table, a variety of variables discriminate between users and nonusers. Interestingly, as the technology gets more complex, general psychological reactions to technology play an increasingly important role. For familiar (less complex) technology such as cellular phones and pagers, these general reactions do not affect their use. For more complex technologies (computers, e-mail, etc.) psychological reactions are the best or second best discriminator.

 

 BEST PREDICTORS OF TECHNOLOGY USE

 Workplace Technology

 Discriminator Variables

 Beta Weight

Cellular Phone

Income

.57

Job Position

.34

Company Size

.29

Education

.17

 

Pager

Age

.76

Ethnic Background

.64

Marital Status

.46

 

Fax Machine

Company Size

.62

Ethnic Background

.50

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.37

Education

.34

Marital Status

.26

Age

.19

 Income

.18

 

Voice-Mail System

Company Size

.53

Education

.47

Ethnic Background

.38

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.34

Income

.24

 

Computer

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.74

Job Position

.38

Education

.35

Company Size

.34

Income

.16

 

Electronic Mail

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.56

Company Size

.45

Ethnic Background

.34

Education

.34

 

Online Services

Income

.52

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.51

Job Position

.37

Education

.18

 

Internet

Children

.50

PSYCHOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO TECHNOLOGY

.47

Supervisory Role

.32

Education

.32

Job Position

.16

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

 

 

FIGURE 3: COMPUTER TRAINING RECEIVED BY BUSINESSPEOPLE

 

Each person who used a computer in the workplace was asked to rate their computer training. As this figure shows, only one-third received excellent or very good training and a sixth received no training at all. The rest had only marginal training at best. Training is an important factor in determining

 

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

 

FIGURE 4: BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY USED AFTER WORKING HOURS

 

This figure shows that over half of the businesspeople are using their computer after standard work hours and about one-third are using voice mail or pager communication technologies. Surprisingly, very few are sending e-mail, surfing the Internet or logging onto America Online after work hours. When asked how much time they spend using technology after work hours, half said less than one hour per day, but one-sixth said they were hooked up for three or more hours a day!

 

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

 

FIGURE 5: REPORTED WAYS HOW TECHNOLOGY HAS MADE WORK MORE STRESSFUL

 

This open-ended interview question produced interesting results. First, only 20% of the sample said that technology had brought no additional stresses to their lives. And, some major themes appeared in the answers centering around the additional work technology brings to the job (solving problems, learning, etc.).

 

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

 

Conclusion:

 

This study, the first phase of a two-part longitudinal investigation, has produced interesting results about workplace technology. A variety of technologies are being used in the workplace (and after hours). Those technologies are clearly bringing stresses to the job that are new and different. And, most interestingly, as the technology becomes more complex, general psychological reactions to that technology play a prominent role in determining whether it will be used or not. Past research has shown that until these psychological reactions to technology are addressed, technology will not be used or used effectively.

 

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