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Instead, organizations must strike a balance between the autonomy and independence offered by technology in the workplace and the need for employees to have some level of formal and informal commitment to the organization as a whole. Just as seemingly counterproductive activities such as doodling, daydreaming, or, in the information age, surfing the internet, can actually contribute to efficiency by offering employees productive mental stimulation, so too can the autonomy offered by technology contribute to the organization as a whole, so long as that autonomy is framed within the context of organizational behavior.
In order to encourage this autonomy while simultaneously ensuring a cohesive workplace, organizations might be well served by better integrating seemingly disparate departments, in order to better wed employees' individual success to the organization as a whole. While this flies in the face of traditional notions of top-down organizational control, it makes sense when one considers the idea in the context of the organic, unstructured kinds of interactions allowed by information and communications technology. As discussed above, technology in the workplace has opened up space for more frequent and less formal modes of communication, and by encouraging this kind of communication across traditional departmental or managerial boundaries, organizations could encourage more organizational citizenship behavior while still reaping the benefits of more autonomous, proactive individuals. Furthermore, increasing this kind of interdepartmental communication can reduce managerial ambiguity and feelings of isolation, two factors that have been shown to contribute substantially to counterproductive behavior (Yang & Diefendorff, 2009, p. 260).
The second case study under consideration here comes from the financial industry, and examines the relationship between information technology investment and productivity. This study is particularly useful for considering the influence of technology on organizational behavior, because it attempts to directly confront a major problem in organizational behavior scholarship; namely, the notion of the "productivity paradox," meaning cases where information technology investment does not correspond to any noticeable increased in productivity (Andreou & Boone, 2002, p. 248). The study examined financial institutions in the U.S. And abroad, and found that there were no substantial differences in terms of autonomy, workload, organizational commitment, and perceived achievement, even when information technology investment differed wildly (Andreou & Boone, 2002, p. 255).
While at first glance this might appear to fly in the face of this study's argument regarding the potential for technology in the workplace, when considered in the context of the research discussed above, it actually serves to underline the central argument of this study, namely, that the successful integration of technology into the workplace depends upon organizational practices themselves, because technology, like anything else, can be helpful or harmful depending on how it is used. Thus, when the financial industry study argues that "improvements in the work environment (i.e. staff morale, job content expansion, more interesting work) are more related to information quality than to it investment," it is confirming the argument that the potential benefits of technology in the workplace are dependent upon organizations carefully managing the relationship between employee psychology and technological competency rather than merely introducing new technologies themselves (Andreou & Boone,2002, p. 255).
This is an important realization for both organizational behavior scholarship and organizations themselves, because it challenges many preconceived notions about what actually contributes to efficiency, precision, and organizational cohesion. As discussed above, organization behavior scholarship has only recently begun to acknowledge the importance of the entire range of human emotion in the workplace, and by coupling this new area of investigation with considerations of technological investment, organization behavior scholarship can begin to produce the kind of research that will more effectively contribute to the success of organizations themselves. This is not to suggest that all previous research has been for naught, but rather to acknowledge the tendency for formal scholarship to remain divorced from the object of its study, such that the important insights offered by this scholarship do not make their way into practical application.
As with most things in the information age, the trend in organization behavior scholarship is towards more inter-disciplinary approaches, a positive development in light of the previously-discussed need for organizations themselves to take a more integrated, interdepartmental approach towards incorporating technology as a means of enhancing overall organization behavior. By focusing on interdepartmental integration through the use of information and communications technology, organizations can encourage the kind of "regulated autonomy" and innovation that has markedly "positive impacts on organizational behavior and work processes" (Mort & Knapp, 1999, p. 33).
The technological revolution of the last few decades has influenced every aspect of human experience, and perhaps nowhere more so than the workplace, which has experienced a transformation the likes of which has not been seen since the Industrial Revolution. However, this transformation has not occurred without its own set of drawbacks and difficulties, and recent research into organization behavior has attempted to uncover the relationship between new technology in the workplace and organizational cohesion and success. By examining general research into the communication and integration possibilities offered by information and communications technology as well as case studies of specific industries, it becomes clear that the benefits of technology will only be felt once organizations recognize the importance of employee emotion and psychology alongside the altogether novel communication and interaction landscape. By reconfiguring the relationship between the individual employee and the larger organization in light of the new relational and communication processes that have emerged as a result of information and communication technology, organizations will be able to encourage greater efficiency, precision, and autonomy while ensuring that cohesive organizational behavior does not suffer.
Andreou, a.N., & Boone, L.W. (2002). The impact of information technology and cultural differences on organizational behavior in the financial services industry. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 3(3), 248-261.
Chou, S.Y., & Pearson, J. (2011). A demographic study of information technology professionals organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Management Research, 3(2), 1-15.
Harpaz, I. (2005). The internet in the workplace: How new technology is transforming work.
Personnel Psychology, 58(2), 569-572.
Mort, J., & Knapp, J. (1999). Integrating workspace design, web-based tools and organizational behavior. Research Technology Management, 42(2), 33-40.
Rafaeli, a. (2004). Emotions in the workplace: Understanding the structure and role of emotions in organizational behavior. Human Relations, 57(10), 1343-1350.
Russo, J.P. (1998). The humanities in a technological society. Humanitas,11(1), 14-41
Yang, J., & Diefendorff, J.M. (2009). The relations of daily counterproductive workplace behavior with emotions, situational antecedents, and personality moderators: A diary study in hong kong. Personnel Psychology, 62(2), 259-295.
In order to offer a thorough consideration of the research discussed here, it is neccesary to briefly point out some of the unacknowledged limitations of the study. In particular, the authors make a point of offering suggestions reagarding the role of gender in organizational citizenship behavior without acknowlding the socially constructed nature of gender itself (Choue & Pearson, 2011, p. 8-9). In other words, they suggest that men and women should be managed differently due to gender differences, without realizing that these ostensibly insurmountable differences in organizational citizenship behavior could actually…[continue]
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