Dissertation Information for Ixchel M. Faniel
MPACT Status: Incomplete - Inspected
Title: Influencing individual innovation through technology features that support cross-departmental understanding
Abstract: In today's world, organizations that are able to maintain competitive advantage are those that can figure out ways to influence employee innovation. Enabling employees to access knowledge from different areas of expertise within the organization offers one alternative. This often means acquiring knowledge from colleagues in other departments. However, organizations face a major challenge in figuring out how to bridge the barriers to cross-departmental knowledge access, barriers that lower individuals' perceived value of cross-departmental knowledge on innovation. This dissertation study couples the theory of thought worlds with the theory of hermeneutic inquiry to determine whether the use of technology features that support cross-departmental understanding can help. The proposed model suggests the use of technology features that support cross-departmental understanding is positively related to individuals' perceived value of cross-departmental knowledge on innovation. In the context of this dissertation study, individuals' perceived value of cross-departmental knowledge on innovation refers to their perceived value of cross-departmental knowledge on divergent thinking and convergent thinking, two recognized components of innovation. The research began with interviews and case studies with scientists and engineers in an aerospace firm. This was followed by a two-wave survey of 874 members of the firm. Results supported the proposed model. Individuals who used technology features that support cross-departmental understanding believed that cross-departmental knowledge helped their divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Moreover, these relationships remained significant after controlling for other factors in the work environment including: perceived openness of communication, people-to-people interaction, perceived task complexity, and perceived ease of use of technology. The findings from this dissertation study showed that coupling the theory of thought worlds with the theory of hermeneutic inquiry provides a useful theoretical base for designing knowledge management technologies that bridge the barriers to cross-departmental knowledge access. More specifically, the findings suggest that cross-departmental knowledge is more highly valued when technology features help individuals find diverse opinions, see how knowledge about a situation has evolved over time, link general overviews of knowledge about a situation to additional related details, and actively add to the knowledge as it evolves.
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