Human Resources in Information Systems

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Human Resources in Information Systems

  1. 1. Human Resources 1Human Resources in Information Systems Edgardo Donovan ITM 603 – Dr. Wenli Wang Module 4 – Case Analysis Monday, June 6, 2011
  2. 2. Human Resources 2 Human Resources in Information Systems As organizations increasingly strive to maximize efficient utilization of informationtechnology human resources, academic literature has produced an interesting array of variedtheories centered on task technology fit, information technology organizational culture,employee stay/leave decisions, and/or affective commitment dynamics. Utilizing both qualitativeand quantitative methodologies these theories have not only filled a gap in career mobilityliterature, but also in certain instances, provided practitioner oriented actionable methodologiesto build more cohesive, resilient, and productive information technology professional teams. Academic literature is rich in examples containing research questions that study humanresources in information systems. A recurrent theme in multiple conceptualizations of ITresources offered in prior research is that the IT human resource is a key component of the ITasset base. To the extent that IT human capital is rare, inimitable, and heterogeneouslydistributed, and therefore provides the possibility of bestowing competitive advantage upon thefirm, the effective management of this resource represents a significant area of managerialconcern (Ferrat 2005, p. 237). As organizations face increasing competitive pressures andtechnological changes, their attention is focusing on how to attain strategic benefits frominformation technology investments in people. Recruiting and training new IT employees is veryexpensive and it takes a long time to for a new employee to acquire the technical andorganizational experience to equal the level of a veteran employee. From a human resourcesperspective, debates center on how to attract and retain information technology professionals. Itis becoming increasingly important to understand the cultural dimensions of IT occupations
  3. 3. Human Resources 3(Guzman 2009, p. 157). A better understanding of job satisfaction dynamics not only leads toless turnover but also contributes to the enhancement of IS employees commitment to theirorganizations (Chen 2010, p.321). Configurational theory can be used to examine organizationalpractices related to the management of IT human capital. In contrast to much prior work in IThuman resource management that is focused at the individual level, inquiry is focused oat theorganizational level of analysis. Building on strategic human resource management research ingeneral and research on the management of IT professional in particular, the following broadquestion arises: are different configurations of IT human resource management practicesassociated with different IT staff turnover rates (Ferrat 2005, p. 237)? Somewhat paradoxically itis suggested that to retain IT professional organizations must provide both technical and businessoriented career opportunities (Reich 1999, p. 337). A variety of theories and methods have been employed to research human resources ininformation systems dynamics. Reich presents a case study of one organization in which morethan 70 IT professional permanently moved into non-IT business unit jobs during the 1980s and1990s. Using interviews and surveys of 51 former IT professional the characteristics of theindividual the organization, the first non-IT job, and the transition period were investigated(Reich 1999, p. 337). The Ng study combines a narrative review with meta-analytic techniques to yieldimportant insights about the existing research on turnover of information technologyprofessionals. Meta-analytic structural equation modeling shows that proximal constructs of jobsatisfaction (reflecting the lack of desire to move) and perceived job alternatives (reflecting ease
  4. 4. Human Resources 4of movement) partially mediate the relationships between the more distal individual attributes,job-related and perceived organizational factors, and IT turnover intentions (Ng 2007, p. 547). Guzman takes a sequential mixed methodology approach composed of two phases, onequalitative and the other quantitative. In the first phase of the study, nine focus groups and 27interviews with college students were conducted to learn about the challenges and barriers thatthey personally experienced while becoming part of the IT occupational community. The focusgroups meetings contained an average of seven participants in each group discussion and lasted55 minutes on average. Discussions were recorded and transcribed. Invited participants rangedfrom freshmen to juniors (Guzman 2009, p. 163). The second phase used results from the firstqualitative phase to design a survey instrument that was administered to 215 IT college studentswho were currently or had recently been involved in IT work experience to evaluate theircultural fit to the IT occupational culture and its influence on their occupational commitment(Guzman 2009, p. 157). In another study, based on survey responses from 106 organizations, IT human resourcemanagement dimensions and configurations are derived and tested showing that theconfiguration with a human capital focus has lower turnover than task-focused configurationshypotheses (Ferrat 2005, p. 237). The above research has added significantly to the existing body of informationtechnology human resource academic literature through a variety of contributions and findings.Arguably, all the aforementioned efforts have resulted in filling a gap in career mobilityliterature based on individuals and their stories of change (Reich 1999, p. 337) and propose newtheoretical models of IT turnover that present propositions for future research (Ng 2007, p. 547).
  5. 5. Human Resources 5It has been shown that flexible compensation and job design practices may be crucial ifcompanies are to be successful managing shifts from technical to business oriented careerleaders. While salary and status differences can be inhibitors to successful transitions out oftechnical areas business managers can have the support of the corporate policy makers tonegotiate salary freezes or job redesign so that IT professional could make the move withoutpenalty (Reich 1999, p. 357). Results also suggest that women, ethnic minorities and those withless work experience encountered greater difficulty fitting into different dimensions of IToccupational culture and that cultural fit can be a good predictor of occupational commitmentand affective commitment (Guzman 2009, p. 157). Consequently, when cultural aspects thatattract and drive away potential IT professionals can be better understood then we can findopportunities for educational and managerial interventions to help create a better cultural fit(Guzman 2009, p. 158). This assertion is supported by survey responses from 106 organizationswhere IT human resource management dimensions and configurations were derived showing thatthe configuration with a human capital focus has lower turnover that the task-focusedconfiguration hypotheses are derived and tested (Ferrat 2005, p. 237). Dr. Guzman’s study stands out due to its focus related to IT organizational cultureramifications within human resource dynamics. An occupational culture arises from the sharededucational, personal, and work experiences of individuals who pursue the same occupation andshare similar ideologies and forms of expressing those ideologies in speech and behavior. Anoccupational subculture comprises a unique cluster of ideologies, beliefs, cultural forms, andpractices of individuals who pursue the same occupation. Dr. Guzman presented empirical databased on 121 interviews indicating that the IT organizational culture is characterized by at least
  6. 6. Human Resources 6the following elements: high value of technical knowledge, extreme and unusual demandspertaining to long hours, dealing with unsatisfied users, a need for constant self re-education,feelings of superiority relative to the IT user community, high IT pervasiveness in non-workcontexts (e.g. use of IT in leisure time), a typical lack of formal work rules in the IT occupationalsetting, and cultural forms manifested in the frequent use of technical jargon and the socialstigmatization or stereotyping (e.g. the geek/nerd label) (Guzman 2009, p. 160). There are multiple practitioner oriented implications as well as suggestions for futurework that were a result of Dr. Guzman’s research regarding IT organizational culture. Hiring andinterviewing practices could be modified in an attempt to define candidate profiles based on theiraffinity for a perceived unifying organizational culture. These instruments could be furthermodified and adapted to be used in the hiring process by HR departments to measure cultural fitto organizational subcultures, such as the one in the IT occupational group (Guzman 2009, p.157). IT occupations indeed have an occupational culture that is recognized by newcomers butthat only work experience allows for a better understanding of it. The cultural fit of newcomersvaries with regard to gender, ethnicity and length of work experience. Women hardly fit with theIT pervasiveness dimension of IT organizational culture, minorities tend to have difficultiesfitting the cultural stereotypes, and those with work experience are best able to articulate ITorganizational culture dimensions. Results also showed that cultural fit is a good predictor ofoccupational commitment and affective commitment in particular. If newcomers to theoccupation develop more positive perceptions about the cultural characteristics of theoccupation, this will enhance the cultural fit and, as a consequence, may enhance affectivecommitment in the IT occupation (Guzman 2009, p. 183).
  7. 7. Human Resources 7 As organizations increasingly strive to maximize efficient utilization of informationtechnology human resources, academic literature has produced an interesting array of variedtheories centered on task technology fit, information technology organizational culture,employee stay/leave decisions, and/or affective commitment dynamics. Utilizing both qualitativeand quantitative methodologies these theories have not only filled a gap in career mobilityliterature, but also in certain instances, provided practitioner oriented actionable methodologiesto build more cohesive, resilient, and productive information technology professional teams.
  8. 8. Human Resources 8 BibliographyChen, Chih-Chung, Hsu, Yao-Sheng, Tung, Feng-Cheng, Lee, Ming Shing. (2010). the influenceof knowledge workers on occupational commitment. International Journal of OrganizationalInnovation (Online). Hobe Sound: Fall 2010. Vol. 3, Iss. 2; p. 261Ferratt, T. W., Agarwal, R., Brown, C. V., & Moore, J. E. (2005). IT human resourcemanagement configurations and it turnover: theoretical synthesis and empirical analysis.Information Systems Research, 16(3), 237-328.Guzman, I. R., & Stanton, J. M. (2009). IT occupational culture: the cultural fit and commitmentof new information technologists. Information Technology & People, 22(2), 157-187.Joseph, D., Ng, K.-Y., Koh, C., & Ang, S. (2007). Turnover of information technologyprofessionals: a narrative review, meta-analytic structural equation modeling, and modeldevelopment. MIS Quarterly, 31(3), 547-577.Reich, B. H., & Kaarst-Brown, M. L. (1999). "Seeding the line": Understanding the transitionfrom IT to non-IT careers. MIS Quarterly, 23(3), 337.

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