Research Philosophy & Interests

My research philosophy encompasses building a bridge between the fields of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Information Science and Technology.  The goal of my research is to apply psychological principles and methods to understanding how to best design, implement, and evaluate technology in the workplace to encourage user acceptance, learning, and productivity.  At the same time, I feel is important to adopt a scientist-practitioner focus, grounding research in current, practical needs and using real-world samples when available.  This is particularly important when understanding technology needs and use in the context of work.

Why is this important?  Technology and innovation are almost ubiquitous in organizations today.  Landers (2006) suggests worldwide, annual expenditures on information technology currently exceed one trillion dollars and are growing by about 10% each year.  However, there is evidence to suggest that investments in IT often fail or fall short of their promise.  Clegg and colleagues (1996) suggest 40% of IT projects are deserted or fail completely, 80% are delivered late or over budget, 90% fall short of expected benefits, and only and 10% meet performance expectations. 

 

Landauer (1999) suggests the main reason computers are not productive for most applications beyond their ability to crunch numbers is a failure on the part of designers to consider the usefulness and usability of the system from the users perspective given the users’ context.  Subsequently, systems are likely to be difficult to use and applied poorly or incorrectly.  Isaac-Henry (1997) suggests technical (i.e., hardware and software) problems account for only 7% of IT-related failure.  Similarly, Anton, Petouhoff, and Schwartz (2003) suggest employees only use, on average, 20 to 30% of the total potential functionality of a system (p.5).  They suggest that this occurs because, “equal time and consideration are not spent on the people part of projects” (Anton et al., 2003, p.21). 

 

Altogether, this suggests a need for a human-centered, psychological approach.  I seek to address this need through the application of psychological theory and methods to the understanding of technology in the workplace.

My current efforts toward this goal revolve around 3 main themes:

Technology acceptance and use broadly – As mentioned above, I am interested in applying psychological theory to help understand the use and acceptance of technology in the workplace.  My goal is to not only extend research in this area, but provide valuable insight for practitioners working with technological change and implementation in work settings. 

 

Example papers/ presentations:

  • Skattebo, A.L. (2007). Organizational climate and the technology acceptance model (TAM).  Unpublished dissertation proposal.  Pennsylvania State University (in progress). 

  • Ferzandi, L.A., Skattebo, A.L., Terrell, I.S. & Bains, P. (2004). Will they share?  Team Problem-Solving in Computer-Mediated Environments.  Presented at the annual conference for the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  Chicago, IL.

User-centered Design and Evaluation – User-centered design and evaluation is a philosophy in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) which holds the needs, desires and abilities of end-users as paramount in design- and evaluation-related decisions.  I have completed work not only in the field evaluating various systems but have also investigated the use of different methods for best understanding the effectiveness of technology from the perspective of users in their work environment.  The photo to the right, for example, was taken while on a trip to evaluate prototype technology at a military installation.   

 

Example papers/ presentations:

  • Haynes, S.R., Purao, S. & Skattebo, A.L. (2004).  Situating evaluation in scenarios of use.  Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Supported Colloborative Work, CSCW. Chicago, IL.

  • Haynes, S.R., Skattebo. A.L., Himelright, J.L., Cohen, M.A., & Singel, J.A. (2006).  Design for Very Large Scale Integration.  Proceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS).  State College, PA.  26-28 June 2006. 

Understanding the changing role of Human Resources (HR) in the age of technology - The influx of technology into work settings influences work in many ways, changing the types of jobs available, the way in which tasks are performed on the job, the knowledge and skill requirements needed to perform the job, as well as new needs for training and development.  As a result, technology impacts all human resource functions, including selection, placement, training, etc.  Although the predominance of technology has caused some people to feel that "...we have entered a a period of socio-economic change that will prove to be as monumental as the industrial revolution" (Orlikowski & Baroudi, 2001, p.146), what we know about organizations has accumulated over decades of research; much of which is likely to be relevant in the future even as work changes and new organizational forms emerge (Snow, Lipnack & Stamps, 1999).  As a result, I am interested in research and practice dealing with the application and modification of current HR theory and practice to the changing needs and pressures for HR.  I feel my training in Industrial and Organizational Psychology as well as Information Science and Technology has ideally suited me for carrying out such investigations and pursuits.

 

Example papers/presentations:

  • Cleveland, J.N., Mohammed, S., & Skattebo, A.L. (2002). Performance management in virtual workplaces.  In R. Heneman, R.L. & Greenberger, D.B. (Eds.) Human Resource Management in Virtual Organizations.  New York:  Information Age Publishing.

At the same time, I maintain interests in research and practice in more traditional areas of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Management, including performance appraisal and work-family balance.

 

References:

Anton, J., Petouhoff, N.L. & Schwartz, L.M. (2003). Integrating people with process and technology: Gaining employee acceptance of technology initiatives. Santa Maria, CA: The Anton Press.

Clegg, C., Axtell, C. et al. (1996). The performance of information technology and the role of human and organizational factors. U.K. Economic and Social Research Council.

Isaac-Henry, K. (1997). Management of information technology in the public sector. In Isaac-Henry, K., Painter, C. & Barnes, C. Management in the Public Sector: Challenges and Change. London: International Thomson Business Press.

Landauer, T.K. (1995). The trouble with computers: Usefulness, usability and productivity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Orlikowski, W.J. & Barley, S.R. (2001). Technology and institutions: What can research on information technology and research on organizations learn from each other? MIS Quarterly, 25(2), 145-165.

Snow, C.C., Lipnack, J. & Stamps, J. (1999). The virtual organization: Promises and payoffs large and small. In Cooper, C.L. & Rouseau, D.M. Trends in organizational behavior: The virtual organization.  New York: Wiley. Pp. 15-30.