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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%)

© 1995 Larry D. Rosen & Michelle M. Weil

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.
The figure 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 and Hesitant "Prove Its." 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 Beta
Discriminator Variables
Technology Weight

Income .57
Job Position .34
Cellular Phone Company Size .29
Education .17

Age .76
Pager Ethnic Background .64
Marital Status .46

Company Size .62


Ethnic Background .50
PSYCHOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO .37
TECHNOLOGY
Fax Machine
Education .34
Marital Status .26
Age .19
Income .18

Voice-Mail Company Size .53


Education .47
Ethnic Background .38
PSYCHOLOGICAL
System REACTIONS TO .34
TECHNOLOGY
Income .24

PSYCHOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO .74
TECHNOLOGY
Job Position .38
Computer
Education .35
Company Size .34
Income .16

PSYCHOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO .56
TECHNOLOGY
Electronic Mail Company Size .45
Ethnic Background .34
Education .34

Income .52
PSYCHOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO .51
Online Services TECHNOLOGY
Job Position .37
Education .18
Children .50
PSYCHOLOGICAL
REACTIONS TO .47
TECHNOLOGY
Internet
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.

Back to list of current research projects

Business Services Curriculum Framework November 2001 BSBCMN205A Use business


technology 34
Element of
Competency
Performance Criteria Range Statement Evidence Guide HSC Requirements and
Advice
2.1 Files and records are
identified, opened,
generated or amended
according to task and
organisational
requirements
Learning experiences for the
HSC must address:
Storing and retrieving documents
Saving and printing documents
2.2 Input devices are
operated according to
organisational requirements
Input devices may include:
- keyboard
- numerical key pad
- mouse
- scanner
2.3 Data is stored
appropriately and
applications are exited
without damage to or loss of
data
Storage of data may include:
- storage in directories and sub-directories
- storage on CD-ROMs, hard and floppy disk-drives or backup
systems
- appropriate storage/filing of hard copies of computer
generated documents
Learning experiences for the
HSC must address:
Filing procedures according to
industry or enterprise policy
including:
- security/confidentiality
- updating
- retrieval and movement of
files
- inactive files storage, removal
and destruction
2. Process and
organise data
2.4 Manuals, training
booklets and/or on-line help
or help-desks are used to
overcome basic difficulties
with applications
Knowledge*
* At this level the learner must demonstrate basic
operational knowledge in a moderate range of areas.
- The correct log-on and shut-down procedures for
computer equipment
- Organisational IT procedures including back-up and
virus protection procedures
- Basic technical terminology in relation to reading
help-files and manuals
Skills
- Literacy skills to identify work requirements and
understand and process basic, relevant workplace
information, follow written instructions
- Communication skills to request advice, receive
feedback and work with a team
- Problem solving skills to solve routine problems
- Keyboarding skills to produce basic workplace
documents
- Ability to relate to people from a range of social,
cultural and ethnic backgrounds and physical and
mental abilities
Learning experiences for the
HSC must address:
Solutions to basic difficulties
found in:
- manuals
- training booklets
- online help
- the help function within
applications
- help-desk