The Impact Of Information Technology On Work Organisations Management Essay


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The impact of information technology will have significant effects on the structure, management and function of most organisations. It demands new patterns of work organisation and effects individual jobs, the structure of groups and teams, the nature of supervision and managerial roles. Information technology results in changes to lines of command , authority and the need for reconstructing the organisation structure and attention to job design. Computer based information and decision support systems influence choices in design of production or service activities, hierarchal structures and organisations of support staffs. Information technology may influence the centralisation or decentralisation of decision making and control systems. New technology has resulted in a flatter organisational structure with fewer levels of management required. In the case of new office technology it allows the potential for staff at clerical/operator level to carry out a wider range of functions and to check their own work. The result is a change in the traditional supervisory function and a demand for fewer supervisors and resources.

Processes of communication have been increasingly limited to computer systems with the rapid transmission of information and immediate access to their national or international offices. Improvements in telecommunications mean for example that support staff need no longer be located within the main production units. Changes wrought by IT means that individuals may work more on their own, from their personal work stations or even from their own homes, or work more with machines than with other people. One person may be capable of carrying out a wider range of activities.

There are changes in the nature of supervision and the traditional hierarchal structure of jobs and responsibilities. Computer based information and decision support systems provide additional dimensions of structural design. They affect choices such as division of work, individual tasks and responsibility. New digital IT enables firms to track shifts in customer choices much more rapidly and effectively. Technological advances in office equipments have enabled organizations to improve operating efficiencies, improve communications, reduce costs, increase their global presence, and gain competitive advantage through the implementation of information technology systems.

Recent trends in workforce management by implementing Information technology changes business processes and structures at all levels. It enables previously separated tasks to be reoriented within the firms. Supporting information systems designed to reduce process time are introduced in all functional departments. New organizational concepts have been developed to reduce the number of hierarchical layers and to introduce more numerical and qualitative flexibility for the employees.

One of the greatest advantage brought by new technology is that the implimitation of new IT will change the business structure and creates more opportunities for employees and management. Business structure represent how people interact with each other, how communication flows, and how power relationships are defined (Hall, 1987). Organizations with hierarchical structure, tightly controlled, not participative are uniform and restricted. All decision-making is based on formal lines of management position. These organizations are reluctant to adapt and emphasize formally established procedures. Superiors make decisions with minimum consultation and involvement of subordinates and through sophisticated control systems and the likehood of poor information flow is maximised . Information system has enabled most of the organisations to redesign their structure and have a flatten structure which are characterised by open channels of communication, flexibility and decentralization of authority and smooth flow of information. Their operational styles vary freely, and decision-making is based on the expertise of the individual. They have loose, informal control with emphasis on a norm of cooperation. Participation and group consensus are highly encouraged. Moreover it gives employees more control over their job and less supervisor and management is required.

The introduction of IT undoubtedly transforms significantly the nature of work and employment conditions for staff. Advances in technical knowledge tend to develop at a faster rate than, and in isolation from, consideration of related human and social consequences. Research is now being conducted into possible health hazards such as eyestrain, backache, general fatigue and irritability for operators of visual display units. This concern has prompted proposals for recommended working practices for VDU operators. The trade union congress has call for regular health checks and eyesight tests for operators and a 20-minute break every two hours. Failure to match technical change to the concomitant human and social considerations means, that staff may become resentful, suspicious and defensive. People's cognitive limitations, and their uncertainties and fears, may result in a reluctance to accept change. The psychological and social implications of technical change, such as information technology and increased automation, must not be underestimated. New ideas and innovations should not be seen by members of staff as threats. The manager has to balance the need for adaptability ain meeting oportunities by new technology with an atmosphere of stability and concern for the interests of staff. The manner in which technical change is introduced into the organisation will influence peoples attitude towards work, the behaviour of individuals and groups, and their level of performance. Continued technical change is inevitable and likely to develop at even greater rate. Managers must be responsive to such change. IT and automation create a demanding challenge. The systems nature of organisations emphasises the interrelationships among the major variables or sub systems of the organisations. The implementation and management of technological change needs to be related to its effect on the task, the structure and the people. It is important to avoid destructive conflict, alienating staff including managerial colleagues, or evoking the anger and opposition of unions. At the same time, it is important to avoid incurring increasing costs or a lower level of organisational performance caused by delays in the successful implementation of new technology. What needs to be considered is the impact of technical change on the design of the work organisation, and the attitudes and behaviour of staff. It will be necessary for managers and supervisors to develop more agile skills in organisation. This calls for the effective management of human resources and a style of managerial behaviour, which helps to minimise the problems of technical change. New forms of work alter the conditions of work and employment, especially telecommuting, globalization, outsourcing, and off-shoring activities.

Another Technological advances is that in electronic communication may continue to decrease the need for traditional office setting while increasing the number of telecommuters. New digital technology is decreasing direct face-to-face communication between organizations, their suppliers, business partners, and their customers. Employees can benefit from becoming mobile, conducting business outside of the traditional office settings through the use of Personal Digital Assistants , cellular phones and laptop computers. Easier access to the Internet allowed more employees to become "telecommuters," who conducted work-related activities either from their homes or from some other remote location.

Mananagment could benefit from Collaboration technologies , which enables companies to conduct "virtual meetings" in the near future. In a virtual meeting, employees from remote locations conduct real-time meetings from their own computers using peer-to-peer software. Participants can see one another on computer screens, share computer space and make changes to product designs or contract documents via a "virtual whiteboard."

IT also has been seen as one of the most significant forces of modernization, Companies which implement the technology information system should consider the importance of IT infrastructure which is a shared information delivery base, the business functionality (Keen, 1991). The overall IT infrastructure comprises the computer and communication technologies and the shareable technical platforms and databases (Ross et al., 1996). The infrastructure underpins a firm's competitive position by enabling initiatives such as cycle time improvement, cross-functional processes, and cross-selling opportunities (Sambamurthy and Zmud, 1992; Weill and Broadbent, 1998).

New technology results in time efficiency savings, greater volumes handled, at greater speeds, with fewer resources. Technology has created remarkable new opportunities to eliminate administrative overhead and transform the HR department into a strategic partner. It also has served up vexing challenges, ranging from cost and maintenance issues to how to use computers and software effectively.

Yet each of these actually creates more pressure on the people within the organisation. They have to deal with the increased volumes and competitive pressures that technology creates. This problem is compounded by the fact that "fewer resources" is a euphemism for less people. Such organisational downsizing inevitably means greater responsibility devolving on those that remain, thus the greater the role of technology, the more important people become.

The new organisational forms confirms the increasing importance of people within the organisation, but it also illustrates how the actions or decisions of any individual can have a significant impact on organisational performance. In a 24/7 digital age where speed is a major element of competition, decisions have to be made instantly and cannot be passed up a bureaucratic, management hierarchy. The consequences of a wrong decision, say a mistake by the lowliest computer programmer, can impact the organisation just as severely as a strategic error by executive management. Align with the new digital technology the need for increased security procedures, workforce management and motivation, and managing budgetary costs in an ever-changing technology-driven marketplace is desirable.

As mentioned above the workforce will conduct business out of a non-traditional office setting at an increasing rate. Employees will continue to become more mobile, operating from remote locations via electronic means. In order to stay competitive in an ever-changing, technology-driven business environment, managers must frequently consider how information technology aligns with their overall strategy.

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).

It is acknowledged that the implementation of technology is diversifying the organizational processes, tasks, and the nature of work. 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 This infusion of technology has had a tremendous effect on employee morale, changing the nature of jobs, and impacting interactions with co workers .

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.

Job satisfaction is one of the most extensively researched work-related attitudes. Saari and Judge (2004), however, observed that HR practitioners lack thorough knowledge of job satisfaction and related antecedents. Job satisfaction is operationally defined as an individual's assessment of the degree to which their work-related values have been achieved. Research suggests that organizational change has a discernable impact on job satisfaction which is associated with organizational citizenship behaviors that are beneficial to organizational effectiveness (Organ, 1990).

Organizational commitment is also another key issues that managers should consider . O'Reilly and Chatman (1986), suggest that psychological attachment to an organization is a theme underlying most conceptualizations of organizational commitment. Individuals with high levels of affective commitment are likely to remain with an organization because they want to remain with the organization (Porter et al., 1974), not because they have no other alternatives or because of social pressure.

Employee turnover is costly for organizations. Consequently, organizations and researchers alike are interested in understanding potential antecedents of turnover in order to avert the costly loss of valued employees. In addition to costs associated with replacing departed employees, the success of organizational initiatives such as mergers or acquisitions can also be impeded by the loss of staff. Common antecedents of employee turnover include intent to turnover, low job satisfaction, and low organizational commitment. Of these variables, a person's stated intentions of future turnover (intent to turnover) appears to be the most powerful predictor of actual turnover behavior. Given the likelihood that organizational change can impact job security, as well as other antecedents, turnover, in the form of intent to turnover, is included as a variable in this research.

Another issue which managers facing with conducting new technological changes is employee's resistance. According to Bolognese (2002), firms should first define the meaning of resistance in order to understand it better. Resistance may be defined as a cognitive state, an emotional state and as behaviour. The cognitive state refers to the negative mind set toward the change. The emotional state addresses the emotional factors, such as frustration and aggression and stress which are caused by the change. As a behaviour, resistance is defined as an action or inaction towards the change . Resistance in any form is intended to protect the employee from the perceived or real effects of change. Understanding the different types of resistance will help managers in preparing employees for change.

McConnell (2007) states that employees usually resist change not because they disagree with it but because there is a lack of knowledge about what will happen, or because of the manner in which the change was communicated to them. Either they have to learn something new and they fear their ability to adapt to it, or there is a lack of communication causing confusion or misunderstanding.

It is easier to implement change that is viewed positively by employees than that which is viewed negatively. Employees often experience changes in job duties or other functions that were planned and implemented solely by leaders or managers that are not directly impacted by the changes. Evidence indicates that those who have been involved in decisions related to the change may react differently, by being more supportive of the change, than those who were not involved. Recent research provides evidence that allowing employees to participate in making decisions related to a change initiative has a positive impact on the overall success of the change (Lines, 2004). In regard to technology, it has been observed that user involvement and participation in technology decisions is of paramount importance in the successful adoption of new technology (Mirvis et al., 1991). Failure to include employees in the process, however, can have numerous implications for organizations. These implications can range from resistance to change. Further, numerous attitudinal implications are associated with employee participation or lack of participation (Ferguson & Cheyne, 1995). Specifically, failing to include employees in the process can lead to cynicism. Cynicism, in turn, is linked negatively to job satisfaction (Reichers, Wanous, & Austin, 1997) and commitment (Reichers et al., 1997; Wanous, Reichers, & Austin, 2000).

Organizational change can be stressful to employees, affecting the well being of an organization. In their study on technology implementation, Wang and Paper (2005) reinforce the need to recognize stress in conjunction with an organizational change. Consequently, examining the relationships between levels of employee stress and employee reactions to technology change may improve our understanding of how individual reactions affect role-related stress in the midst of these changes.

Leaders in organizations have a variety of options for facilitating employee involvement. If technological changes are being implemented in an organization coveting a large geographic area, participation and involvement could be supported through the use of discussion boards, teleconferences, and even joint meetings in centralized locations. Regardless of the method chosen by leaders to solicit employee input, it is crucial that leaders demonstrate ongoing support for the technology changes throughout the implementation process.

While the value of allowing individuals to participate in planning technology changes has far reaching implications for most or all individuals in organizations, it is important to note that it is not always practical or possible to permit full involvement. Consequently, organizations should endeavor to focus involvement efforts on individuals who will experience the greatest impact of the technology changes. Management should realise that employees with high levels of involvement in planning the technology changes will react more positively to the changes than individuals with low levels of involvement. Employee's reactions to technological changes will be positively related to pre-change levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Employee's reactions to technological changes will be negatively related to pre-change levels of intent to turnover and role-related stress (i.e., individuals who have lower levels of intent to turnover and role-related stress will tend to react positively to the changes).

Another important conclusion, given the findings that pre-change role confusion was negatively related to reactions to technology changes, is that management should make efforts to identify the existence of role confusion prior to implementing technology changes could enhance the success of these implementation efforts. Based on this study, those who lead technology implementation must take time to interact with individuals to determine if there are salient reasons for individuals perceiving their roles as unclear. Perceptions of role confusion could be effectively addressed by making policies and job requirements clear to employees prior to making any changes. In addition, any anticipated modifications to these policies or job requirement associated with the technology changes could also be addressed prior to making the changes in an effort to enhance employee reactions to and acceptance of the technology changes.

Hypothesis 1:

Hypothesis 2: (Armenakis et al., 1999; Lines, 2004)

(Armenakis & Bedeian, 1999)

(e.g., Gardner et al., 1987)

(e.g., Mossholder et al., 2000)

(e.g., Iverson & Pullman, 2000).

(Mossholder et al., 2000)

(Armenakis & Feild, 1993)

(Agarwal & Prasad, 1999; Mirvis et al., 1991; Reynolds, 2004; Thach & Woodman, 1994).

(e.g., Dewett & Jones, 2001; Mirvis, Sales, & Hackett, 1991; Taylor, 2004

(Igbaria & Parasuraman, 1996; Nord & Nord, 1994; Sheng, Pearson, & Crosby, 2003).

(Griffin, 1991; Owen & Demb, 2004).

(Loscocco & Roschelle, 1991)

(Locke, 1969; Locke, 1976)

(see, for example, Ferguson & Cheyne, 1995)

(Begley & Yount, 1994)

(Tett & Meyer, 1993)

(Vandenberg & Nelson, 1999)

(Ashford, Lee, & Bobko, 1989)

(Bartunek, 1984; Buchanan, 2003)

(Jick & Peiperl, 2003; Jick, 1993; Kanter, Stein, & Jick, 1992)

(McHugh, 1997)

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