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Dissertation Information for Fiona Lee

- Fiona Lee

- Ph.D.

- [No Discipline Recorded]

- Harvard University (USA) (1995)

- None

- None

MPACT Status: Incomplete - Not_Inspected

Title: When the going gets tough, do the tough ask for help? The antecedents, process, and outcomes of help-seeking behaviors in organizations

Abstract: "Individuals in organizations do not always seek help even though help is needed and available, sometimes undermining problem solving, learning, and overall organizational effectiveness. This research examines the antecedents, process, and outcomes of help seeking behaviors in organizations by exploring three research questions: (a) how do individual (gender), relational (power relations), task (problem difficulty), and organizational (norms) factors affect the frequency of help seeking? (b) how do help seekers verbally phrase their requests for help, and how do gender, power relations, problem difficulty, and organizational norms affect the usage of these ""verbal strategies?"" and (c) what are the relationships between help seeking frequency, usage of verbal strategies, and outcomes such as satisfaction, proficiency, quality of the information transmitted, and quality of the relationship between the interactants?

Two studies were conducted to address these research questions. The first study was a laboratory experiment; subjects were presented with problems in an experimentally created hierarchy, and help seeking frequency and verbal strategies were measured. The second study was a field study in a large hospital which recently implemented a new computer system--multiple methods (including surveys, observations, and archival data) were used to measure users' help seeking behaviors when system problems arose, and users' proficiency on and satisfaction with the system.

The laboratory and field results revealed that whether individuals sought help and how they verbally sought help were affected by gender, power relations, problem difficulty and organizational norms. For example, males and females exhibited consistent differences in their help seeking behaviors. First, males and females differed in the frequency they sought help when problems came up-males sought more help when norms were collective than when norms were individualistic, but for females the trend was reversed. Second, males and females differed in the verbal strategies they used to communicate their requests for help--males used most strategies to couch when seeking help from supervisors, and females used most strategies to couch when seeking help from subordinates. The two studies further revealed that both help seeking frequency and verbal help seeking strategies were related to outcome variables--those who sought help more tended to be more proficient and satisfied with the new technology, and those who used more verbal strategies to couch their requests for help tended to communicate their requests more accurately and completely, and were perceived more favorably by others.

These results add to an existing literature that suggests that fundamental differences exist between men and women in interpersonal relations. These differences stem from gender differences in interpersonal orientation, and also from how males and females are perceived by others. The results also add to an existing literature which suggests that proactive learning behaviors are critical to organizational performance--help seeking frequency predicted organizational outcomes, and using verbal strategies predicted interpersonal outcomes. Further, results of this study have practical implications for identifying the situations where help seeking is important for performance, and for developing practical steps to foster help seeking behaviors in organizations."

MPACT Scores for Fiona Lee

A = 0
C = 3
A+C = 3
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2010-09-27 22:47:21

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Students under Fiona Lee

- None

- Qiping Zhang - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2002)
- Luo Airong - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2008)
- Emilee Jeanne Rader - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2009)