Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 29 Number 3 2012 pp. 9-42

Everybody Needs Somebody: The Influence of Team Network Structure on Information Technology Use

Magni, Massimo, Angst, Corey M, and Agarwal, Ritu

ABSTRACT: Team network structure has been shown to be an important determinant of both team and individual performance outcomes, yet few studies have investigated the relationship between team network structure and technology usage behaviors. Drawing from social network and technology use literature, we examine how the structure of a team's advice-seeking network affects individual use of a newly implemented information technology. We develop cross-level hypotheses related to the effects of the structure of mutually interconnected ties within the team (i.e., internal closure) as well as the structure of nonredundant ties outside the team boundaries (i.e., external bridging). The hypotheses are tested in a field study of 265 employees working in 44 teams in a large financial services institution. Results show that internal closure has a U-shaped effect on individual use such that individual usage of the system is higher when the number of internal advice-seeking ties within the team is low or high, suggesting that medium levels of internal closure are the least desirable network configurations because in such instances teams neither realize the benefits of high closure information sharing nor are they able to avoid in-group biases associated with low closure conditions. Our results also reveal that in addition to having a direct positive effect on individual use, external bridging interacts with internal closure in a complex manner. The U-shaped effect of closure is dominant when bridging is high but assumes an inverted U-shaped pattern when bridging is low. Several implications for managers follow from these findings. First, in order to increase usage of technology, in teams characterized by low internal closure, managers should encourage the development of ties across team boundaries. Second, managers should maximize within-team interconnections in order to facilitate the circulation of external knowledge within team boundaries. Finally, managers should be aware that maximizing internal closure by facilitating interconnections among team members could be dangerous if not accompanied by mechanisms for external bridging.

Key words and phrases: advice-seeking network, external bridging, integration perspective, internal closure, social categorization theory, technology use