Social Influence and Human Interaction with Technology

Social Influence and Human Interaction with Technology

Robert S. Friedman (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA), Desiree M. Roberts (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA) and Jonathan D. Linton (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-038-7.ch004
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Abstract

This chapter discusses how information that supports innovation flows throughout an organization, the construction and effects of team composition, the innovative processes that teams employ, and the development, implementation, and evaluation of systems used to manage the flow and distribution of information. As Allen and Cohen (1969) point out, effective communicators rise in their organizations as a result of their willingness to engage information—by reading and conversing outside of their immediate settings, but as Tushman (1977) explains, that kind of outreach precipitates special boundary roles, which come about to satisfy an organization’s communication network’s role of bridging an internal information network to external sources of information. Thompson (1965) investigates the conditions necessary to move an organization from a single-minded focus on productivity to one of those that facilitate innovation. At times, that means engaging rival firms, and von Hippel (1987) demonstrates that information sharing is economically beneficial to the organizations doing the trading. Freeman’s (1991) finding that information regarding innovative processes entails the development of effective information networks confirms how important it is for successful innovation that there exist effective external and internal communication networks, and that individuals collaborate to share information. von Hippel (1994) returns later in the chapter to qualify this point by showing that there is a direct correlation between the level of stickiness and the expense related to moving that information to a location where it can be applied to solving a problem.
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Introduction

This chapter discusses how information that supports innovation flows throughout an organization, the construction and effects of team composition, the innovative processes that teams employ, and the development, implementation, and evaluation of systems used to manage the flow and distribution of information. As Allen and Cohen (1969) point out, effective communicators rise in their organizations as a result of their willingness to engage information—by reading and conversing outside of their immediate settings, but as Tushman (1977) explains, that kind of outreach precipitates special boundary roles, which come about to satisfy an organization’s communication network’s role of bridging an internal information network to external sources of information. Thompson (1965) investigates the conditions necessary to move an organization from a single-minded focus on productivity to one of those that facilitate innovation. At times, that means engaging rival firms, and von Hippel (1987) demonstrates that information sharing is economically beneficial to the organizations doing the trading. Freeman’s (1991) finding that information regarding innovative processes entails the development of effective information networks confirms how important it is for successful innovation that there exist effective external and internal communication networks, and that individuals collaborate to share information. von Hippel (1994) returns later in the chapter to qualify this point by showing that there is a direct correlation between the level of stickiness and the expense related to moving that information to a location where it can be applied to solving a problem.

Bantel and Jackson (1989) begin the section on team composition by suggesting that certain demographic factors affect a team’s ability to be innovative, but resource diversity—including communication ability—is ultimately essential to innovation. For Howell and Higgins (1990), identifying a champion among a team’s members will facilitate innovation, while Anconia and Caldwell (1992) find that the greater the functional diversity, the more team members communicated outside of their teams’ boundaries. Scott and Bruce (1994) take a different vantage point, focusing on the individual and his or her influence on and adaptation to an organization’s climate for innovation. The section on innovation process begins with Hage and Dewar (1973), who conclude that ultimately, the values held by an organization’s elite group are more significant when predicting innovation than the values of any single leader or even the entire staff, but the correlation between a single leader and innovation should not be dismissed as a valid predictor of an organization’s ability to innovate. Even so, as Daft (1978) has found, there is evidence to support the theory that there can be opposing innovative processes in an organization: one that begins at the lower levels of its hierarchy, and one that percolates down from upper levels. Even more radical, Quinn (1985) proposes that corporate executives understand and adapt to the fact that the innovation environment is filled with surprise, characterized by chaos, and virtually immune to control. The chapter concludes with Porter and Millar’s (1985) article describing how information technologies affect management strategies and how these strategies are disseminated throughout a firm.

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