Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 29 Number 1 2012 pp. 79-114

What's the Weather Like?: The Effect of Team Learning Climate, Empowerment Climate, and Gender on Individuals' Technology Exploration and Use

Maruping, Likoebe M and Magni, Massimo

ABSTRACT: Given the pervasive use of teams in organizations coupled with high levels of investment in collaboration technology, there is increasing interest in identifying factors that affect the exploration and use of a broader scope of system features so that firms can benefit from the use of such technology. Prior research has called for a deeper understanding of how managers can encourage greater innovation with technology in the workplace. Drawing on the team climate and technology use literatures, we identify team learning climate and team empowerment climate as key factors that affect employees' propensity to explore a new system's features. We develop and test our use in a field study involving 268 employees embedded in 56 work teams. Three main findings come out of this research. First, the results reveal that the two types of team climate differ in their cross-level effects on individual intention to explore, such that team learning climate promotes greater intention to explore, whereas team empowerment climate reduces employees' intention to explore the technology. In addition, we find that team learning climate and team empowerment climate interact in shaping individual intention to explore, such that the presence of a strong learning climate is more effective in promoting intention to explore when teams also have a strong empowerment climate. Second, the findings show that men and women are affected differently by team climate. We find that for men, team empowerment climate has no influence on intention to explore, whereas for women there is a significant negative cross-level effect. Finally, we find that intention to explore has a positive effect on usage scope, suggesting an important link between team climate, individual cognition, and the scope of features used by employees in team settings. Taken together, the model and results highlight the important role of team climate and gender-and the interplay between them-as drivers of technology feature exploration. Our findings, especially those related to team empowerment climate, are counterintuitive when compared to prior literature and offer useful insights for managers. On the one hand, managers should consider leveraging team learning climate to intrinsically stimulate employees to engage in exploration of technology. On the other hand, managers should be cautious and guard against saddling employees with too many additional responsibilities during the stages of exploration and experimentation with system features. It is possible that through an expanded set of responsibilities and expectations fostered by team empowerment climate, employees may be experiencing work overload, thus reducing their likelihood of exploring a broader set of technology features. Managers should be especially attentive to this based on the gender composition of their teams.

Key words and phrases: collaboration technology, intention to explore, multilevel research, postadoption use, team climate, team technology use, usage scope