ABCs of KMPersonality types and acceptance of technical knowledge management systems (TKMS)

Personality & technical knowledge management systems research: Implications for practitioners [Personality & TKMS series]

This is part 20 of a series of articles featuring edited portions of Dr. Maureen Sullivan’s PhD dissertation.

The implications of this study for practitioners are discussed in the context of the five research questions that guided this research. Both statistically significant and weaker indications are explained. The results offer perspectives both on the type of individual that finds technical knowledge management systems (TKMSs) useful and on the type of individual that perceives TKMSs as easy to use.

Research question 1

Research question 1 asked, Among users of technical knowledge management systems (TKMS), does neuroticism (personality type) as measured by the five-factor model (FFM), correlate to the acceptance of TKMS as measured by the technology acceptance model (TAM)?

This research question evaluated the correlation of the neuroticism personality type as measured by the five-factor model (FFM) with the acceptance of TKMSs as measured by the technology acceptance model (TAM).

The statistical analysis, although not quite statically significant, did indicate a negative trend effect. This suggests moderate evidence that participants exhibiting the neuroticism personality type perceived that TKMSs had lower ease of use and usefulness.

Barrick and Mount1 defined the neuroticism personality dimension as having a “tendency to be anxious, fearful, depressed and moody”. Consequently, it is logical that individuals indicating higher neuroticism would be less accepting of TKMSs based on either its perceived usefulness or its perceived not very complex. If employers incorporate evaluations and rewards ease of use.

The lack of a correlation between the neuroticism personality type and TKMS acceptance should not prevent employers from hiring individuals high in neuroticism. Researchers Raja, Johns, and Ntalianis2 found that employees high in neuroticism tended to focus on short-term and economic exchanges with their employers related to performance, especially on tasks that did not require high initiative and were with successfully completing tasks, such as accepting and actively using TKMSs, then employees high in neuroticism will focus on these tasks becoming a significant part of their transactional contracts with their employers3. Therefore, to avoid negative evaluations and potential financial losses, employees high in neuroticism will be more likely to engage in greater TKMS usage when management practices stress accountability for TKMS usage.

Research question 2

Research question 2 asked, Is there a relationship between the extraversion personality type and the acceptance of TKMSs?

This research question evaluated the correlation of the extraversion personality type as measured by the FFM with the acceptance of TKMSs as measured by the TAM.

The statistical analysis showed that the correlation of the extraversion personality type with the acceptance of TKMSs based on perceived usefulness was not statistically significant. In contrast, the statistical analysis showed the correlation of the extraversion personality type with the acceptance of TKMS based on perceived ease of use as statistically significant and that as extroversion rose, so did the level of perceived
ease of use.

Wang and Yang4 conducted a study that examined the relationship of personality traits with the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology model based on online stock investment participation. One result of the study suggested that the extraversion personality trait affected investors‘ intention to use online investing systems. Wang and Yang explained that “high extraversion persons are mostly positive, optimistic, are willing to take risks, like to be around crowds, have more social activities, and tend to look for amazement”. Similarly, the evidence in this research study suggests that the difference in significance between the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of TKMSs can be attributed to extraverts‘ tendency to take risks, thereby perceiving TKMSs as easier to use versus being useful.

Overall, this research study showed that the variance in extrovert traits can be directly attributed in the variance of acceptance of TKMSs based on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Future research may explore more deeply this specific trait and the variances in TAM.

Research question 3

Research question 3 asked, Is there a relationship between the openness personality type and the acceptance of TKMSs?

This research question evaluated the correlation of the openness personality type as measured by the FFM with the acceptance of TKMSs as measured by the TAM.

The statistical analysis showed that the correlation of the openness personality type with the acceptance of TKMSs based on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use was statistically significant and consistent with this study‘s prediction. Wang and Yang explained that “Openness (O) [easily accepts] various experiences [and] cultures, always express[s] curiosity, and [has] much more imagination. Measurements include the degrees of fantasy, feelings, ideas, values, aesthetics, and action”.

The results of Wang and Yang’s study showed that extraversion and openness significantly affected the study subjects‘ intention to participate in online stock investment. Similarly, this research study showed evidence that study participants exhibiting the openness personality type were more likely to perceive TKMSs as useful tools in researching and resolving technical issues and as tools that can be easily used by those with all levels of technical experience.

Research question 4

Research question 4 asked, Is there a relationship between the conscientiousness personality type and the acceptance of TKMSs?

This research question evaluated the correlation of the conscientiousness personality type as measured by the FFM with the acceptance of TKMSs as measured by the TAM.

The statistical analysis showed that the correlation of the conscientiousness personality type with the acceptance of TKMSs based on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use was not statistically significant. These results are inconsistent with the traits normally exhibited by a person with the conscientiousness personality type.

Barrick and Mount stated that persons exhibiting the conscientiousness personality trait have a “tendency to be thorough, responsible, organized, hardworking, achievement-oriented and persevering”, and that once they make a decision, they are more likely to follow through regarding the decision. Once TKMSs were perceived to be not easy to use (perceived ease of use), then the conscientiousness trait may have resulted in a decision that TKMSs were not useful (perceived usefulness).

Gellatly5 studied the effect that conscientiousness had on job performance. The study resulted in the determination that performance expectancy was the conciliator between personality trait and job performance. As a result, Gellatly‘s study determined that persons exhibiting the conscientious personality trait set higher work goals and worked harder to achieve their goals based on their belief that they could perform well at their jobs. This suggests that if the usage of TKMSs was tied to job performance, then individuals exhibiting the conscientiousness personality trait would possibly perceive TKMSs as useful and ease to use.

Future research in this area could include the investigation of any moderating factors that could influence a person exhibiting the conscientiousness personality trait to make the decision to not accept TKMSs.

Research question 5

Research question 5 asked, Is there a relationship between the agreeableness personality type and the acceptance of TKMSs?

This research question evaluated the correlation of the agreeableness personality type as measured by the FFM with the acceptance of TKMSs as measured by the TAM.

The statistical analysis showed that the correlation of the agreeableness personality type with the acceptance of TKMSs based on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use was not statistically significant. This suggests moderate evidence that individuals exhibiting the agreeableness personality type perceived that TKMSs had lower ease of use and usefulness.

Wang and Yang stated that “agreeableness refers to [being] cordial, enthusiastic, [and] sympathiz[ing] with or help[ing] others, and is measured by the degrees of trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, and tender-mindedness”. The degree of trust in this study might have negatively influenced the study participants who exhibited the agreeableness personality trait. These study participants might have been agreeable about completing the study but might not have been very trusting of the study‘s measurements.

The study conducted by Wang and Yang showed that agreeableness with internet experience moderates the social influence intention relationship with positive effect. “Social influence is the degree an individual perceives influence on him from other persons of importance”. The results of this research study did not show any significance with the agreeableness personality trait. However, the data from this study could be analyzed to see if social influence positively correlated with participants‘ intention to use TKMSs.

Future research is warranted in this area to determine if any other moderating effects, such as social influence, could influence the results of a study.

Summary

The implications of this study for practitioners are based on the findings and conclusions of this study. This study examined the relationships of personality types as measured by the FFM with TKMSs as measured by the TAM.

Many organizations and companies can benefit from the results of this research. Overall, it is recommended that organizations and companies that research and distribute TKMSs consider the personality traits of users when researching and designing these TKMSs. The potential benefits could bolster competitive advantage in the information technology arena and forward the study of personality trait relationships in information technology–related fields.

Organizations could use the results of this study to implement quite a few business practices in their efforts to achieve and maintain competitive advantages. For instance, software and hardware vendors that distribute TKMSs could use these results in designing the TKMSs to effectively support not only the personality types that accepted TKMS but also the personality types that were less accepting of TKMSs in this study.

Based on knowledge of what certain personality types are interested in, software and hardware vendors can design TKMSs to ensure that users continue to perceive the systems as useful and easy to use. Just as important, software and hardware vendors would benefit from fully understanding the traits of the personality types that were not accepting of TKMSs in this study and designing their TKMSs to accommodate these traits. As a result, software and hardware vendors would achieve more acceptances of TKMSs and gain competitive advantage in the technology market.

Organizations can also use the results of this study to determine which personality types to hire if the acceptance of TKMSs is required. The International Personality Item Pool-5 could be administered to potential job candidates to determine their personality types. Based on the results, organizations could determine if a candidate is more suitable for a job that requires the acceptance of TKMSs. Just as important, these results could be used in technical and nontechnical organizations to determine candidates‘ suitability for certain jobs. Based on the results of this study, organizations could ensure that candidates exhibiting the extraversion or openness personality types are hired for jobs requiring the acceptance of TKMSs.

Next edition: Personality & technical knowledge management systems research: Implications for researchers.

References:

  1. Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The big five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44(1), 1-26. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00688.x
  2. Raja, U., Johns, G., & Ntalianis, F. (2004). The impact of personality on psychological contracts. Academy of Management Journal, 47(3), 350–367. doi:10.2307/20159586
  3. Wang, S., Noe, R. A., & Wang, Z. M. (2011). Motivating knowledge sharing in knowledge management systems: A quasi–field experiment. Journal of Management, 1–32. doi:10.1177/0149206311412192
  4. Wang, H. I., & Yang, H. L. (2005). The role of personality traits in UTAUT model under online stocking. Contemporary Management Research, 1(1), 69-82.
  5. Gellatly, I. R. (1996). Conscientiousness and task performance: Test of a cognitive process model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(5), 474-482. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.81.5.474

Maureen Sullivan

Dr. Maureen Sullivan is an information technology official in the US federal government workspace. She also teaches technology courses at a Maryland community college. Dr. Sullivan is continuing her research in technical knowledge management systems.

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