اتخاذ فناوری اطلاعات و ارتباطات و تعدیل اثر عوامل سازمانی در اثربخشی ارتباطات فروشنده: مطالعه احتمالی در صنایع با تکنولوژی بالا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|18008||2005||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Volume 25, Issue 8, August 2005, Pages 909–927
Although many studies have suggested that the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) has a positive impact on global sales force performance, few have focused on more specific benefits, particularly as regards facilitating factors. This article uses an organizational approach to present empirical evidence regarding whether and how ICT adoption influences an individual salesperson's communication effectiveness. The authors define a set of institutional antecedents and moderators to empirically test a contingency model for four technologies, using data collected from salespeople in three high-tech industries. The results confirm the crucial role of institutional factors both in the initiation of individual ICT adoption and in subsequent communication effectiveness. However, most differences between the three samples are explained by the institutional factors as predictors of ICT adoption rather than as moderators of the relationship between ICT adoption and communication effectiveness. Another key finding of our study is the positive correlation between sales force IT adoption and communication effectiveness. This suggests that salespeople who use ICT tools and have a positive attitude toward those tools will achieve higher levels of communication effectiveness. In conclusion, we present the implications of our study for research and managerial practices.
Given a highly competitive environment, many businesses have sought to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to sustain their competitive advantage (Sohal et al., 2001). As a result, ICT have significantly influenced personal selling (Anderson, 1996, Keillor et al., 1997 and Leigh and Marshall, 2001). Historically, the first ICT revolution occurred in the early 1980s with the appearance of the PC. Laptop computers followed, offering the sales force new possibilities and dreams (Engle and Barnes, 2000). ICT currently encompass a vast spectrum of hardware, telecommunication software and office equipment that convert raw data to useful information, adding value especially to the sales process (Sohal et al., 2001). ICT adoption for sales purposes is sometimes called sales force automation (SFA), which involves converting manual sales activities to electronic processes through various combinations of hardware and software applications (Morgan and Inks, 2001 and Rivers and Dart, 1999). Until now, however, there has been no evidence that more complex ICT are more appropriate. Similarly, there is no evidence that more simplistic ICT offer salespeople insufficient value (Speier and Venkatesh, 2002). To date, moreover, there have been few studies on sales force adoption of new technologies, particularly as regards selling performance (Engle and Barnes, 2000). This is a critical gap when compared with the profusion of managerial literature describing ICT impacts on organizational performance, i.e. global performance as opposed to tightly focused marketing and sales performance (Dewett and Jones, 2001). Following a recent article by Pullig et al. (2002), we seek to fill this research gap by placing stronger focus on the individuals within an organization. In the last decade, some authors have reported their thinking and findings on sales process automation, thus contributing new research directions to the discussion. Parthasarathy and Sohi (1997) discuss corporate adoption of ICT tools—primarily laptop computers—for sales personnel. Describing the organizational and individual factors that could affect ICT adoption success, they conclude by urging further study to determine whether and how salesperson productivity is enhanced. They also emphasize the need to identify the circumstances in which ICT adoption is most beneficial. Keillor et al. (1997) discuss the role of technology in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of salespeople navigating through the sales process. In addition, they empirically examine salespersons’ attitudes towards technology and how those attitudes may affect sales productivity (annual sales). Their work encourages focus on the effects of individual factors, such as experience. In an empirical study investigating the pharmaceutical sales force in three different countries, Engle and Barnes (2000) empirically examine effectiveness gains (percentage growth) allowed by the laptop. Marshall et al. (1999) discuss how the adoption of a set of ICT tools affect sales force activities. Their conclusion, too, deplores the insufficient body of study on how technology and organizational change affect individual salesperson effectiveness. More recently, Good and Stone (2000) empirically explore the impact of computerization on individual marketer performance, including technical and managerial influences in their performance chain model derived from Delone and McLean (1992). Their findings show significant improvement of individual performance. Erffmeyer and Johnson (2001) highlight one final gap in the literature: very few articles examine the impact of implementing a set of different technologies, focusing instead on one technology at a time. This literature review undoubtedly points up the need for further research, for it indicates that the adoption–performance relationship is not likely to be a simple one of stimulus-response. The recommendations of these authors provide vital insights for our research. Indeed, they implicitly encourage us to extend the studies of Pullig et al. (2002) into a contingency approach never empirically contemplated in this connection, although strongly recommended by Delone and McLean (1992). This article expands on the work of those authors by presenting empirical evidence of the conditions under which sales force adoption of a new technology occurs and is more or less effective in engendering communication effectiveness. Our objective is to fill this gap by conducting a contingency study and validating these issues in three industries having different levels of innovativeness in a high-tech context. Given the proliferation of technologies, the ‘contradictory’ findings of various studies and the unique context of different industrial sectors, an investigation of four specific technologies expected to improve communication effectiveness in three different high-tech industries will contribute to both marketing and ICT theory and practice. To summarize, our study examines the institutional conditions under which ICT adoption by salespeople occurs and best leads to communication effectiveness. Using field data, we explore the degree to which this relationship is enabled and modified by selected supervisory context variables: sales control, organizational culture, managerial style and organizational change processes. This article has four sections. In the first section, we review the literature pertaining to ICT in the sales process, then present a conceptual framework and the associated hypotheses. In the second, we describe our methodology. In the third, we discuss the key findings. To conclude, we present the implications of this research and directions for further research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our results provide a positive view of ICT adoption. Drawing on previous research (e.g. Keillor et al., 1997, Parthasarathy and Sohi, 1997 and Good and Stone, 2000) as well as very recent studies (Pullig et al., 2002 and Speier and Venkatesh, 2002), we argue that ICT adoption actually yields individual gains in salesperson communication effectiveness that vary depending on organizational enablers. Consistent with this view, the results of the current study highlight the fact that organizational variables are more or less important, depending on the industrial sector and technology involved. Overall, our results suggest that our model of antecedents is better suited for the EEI sample, whereas our contingency model is better suited for the CI sample. Our study suggests several differences between the three samples as regards the antecedents of ICT adoption (Table 3). The evidence suggests two specific aspects. First, control system and managerial style are the two main predictors giving rise to significant differences between the three samples for the four technologies considered here. Second, both types of culture, adhocracy (supportive and innovative) and bureaucracy (hierarchical), and organizational change processes all predict significant differences between the three sectors only with regard to laptop adoption. The results yield only one other significant difference: for database technology, we found a significant difference between CI and EEI as regards the impact of organizational change processes. These findings support the assertion that given structural and environmental differences, high-tech sectors may differ as to organizational impact on ICT adoption. First, as regards the contingency model, our findings confirm the relevance of the relationship between ICT adoption and communication effectiveness. Bear in mind that this construct reflects the interaction between the salesperson's attitude toward ICT and frequency of ICT use. We suggested that mandatory ICT use, e.g. without voluntariness or any individual good attitude toward ICT, was insufficient to bring about substantial communication effectiveness. Examination of Table 2 shows that whereas attitude toward ICT correlates significantly with communication (r=0.18,0.33,0.34), use is sometimes unrelated to them. Although this depends on which ICT is involved, all samples display lower correlations. These results caution managers that the attitude toward a new ICT tool, its use by salespeople and the impact on communication effectiveness are a complex issue. This further shows that mandatory use without a good attitude about ICT should not be construed as adoption. This finding provides timely support for arguments made in information systems literature ( Kim and Lee, 1986 and Delone and McLean, 1992) and for similar rationales in marketing ( Hultink and Atuahene-Gima, 2000). Second, a closer look at moderating hypotheses suggests that, similar to Pullig et al. (2002), an organizational climate is posited to create ‘enabling conditions’ necessary for successful use of an adopted ICT tool. Results indicate that three proposed institutional factors are likely to be more important in creating the conditions necessary for individual communication effectiveness. First, outcome-based and behavior-based control systems are both important. Outcome-based control systems contrast with behavior-based systems through the replacement of field sales managers and fixed compensation with sales force outcomes and incentive compensation. Although few sales organizations are likely to use a control system that is entirely behavior- or outcome-based, most of them emphasize one over the other (Oliver and Anderson, 1994). Thus, we operationalized our index so that it denotes a tendency toward one or the other control system. We conclude that, depending on the technology involved, a different orientation fosters effective adoption of technology. However, results do not indicate any statistically significant difference between the sectors. Furthermore, contrary to expectation, a bureaucratic culture has positive effects only. Specifically, bureaucratic culture intervenes both upstream and downstream of technology adoption. When crafting our hypothesis, we neglected the beneficial effects of such a culture. The rigor it creates could ultimately favor structural organization and might thus help drive appropriate change processes. Again contrary to expectation, findings suggest that adhocracy (supportive and innovative approaches) has mostly negative effects on communication effectiveness. Only one statistically significant difference occurs between CI and EEI. Furthermore, although organizational change processes show mitigated results as a significant predictor and moderator, findings suggest that most of the significant differences between the sectors bear upon this factor. Allow us to introduce here the logic of opposition from Robey and Boudreau (1999), who discuss the issue of ICT introduction in organizations. They argue that the same organizational factors may have opposite impacts on change, specifically ICT adoption, and propose methods to better investigate such contradictory forces. Since following their recommendations would require starting a new study, we attempt here simply to explain the contradictory effects of change processes, inviting other scholars to delve deeper into this. Indeed, Benamati et al. (1997) conclude their article by arguing that ‘coping mechanisms’ (what we call ‘organizational change processes’) can cause problems. For instance, when an organization uses vendor support and the vendor is insufficiently responsive, vendor neglect becomes a new problem. The authors explain that organizations often seek to minimize the cost of change processes and thus provide inefficient support, a slight that may bring on adoption failure. Lastly, although an empowering managerial style has a positive effect, it is believed to be the least important institutional factor for creating the requisite conditions. For sales practitioners, one of the basic managerial tasks is designing internal organization. However, these design decisions may be taken on the sole basis of corporate concerns, forgetting that the sales effort of most organizations depends primarily on effective personnel management (Gatignon and Robertson, 1989). Therefore, the dual perspective used for this study has particular appeal for managers in that it considers organizational factors that affect effective sales force adoption of ICT. Given their social position, managers are in a unique position to change the institutional context, making it more conducive to salesperson performance gains. Pullig et al. (2002) use a more context-oriented concept of facilitative leadership, and their findings suggest similar relevance for the leadership factor. The findings of Pearce and Sims (2002) indicate that both powered and empowered managerial styles influence the effectiveness of teams. To wrap up our comparison perspective, we can assume that slight but noteworthy differences qualify the general tendencies proposed in our contingency model. Many more differences between the three samples are found in Table 3 than in Table 4. The findings suggest that industry differences relate more to the predictive effect of institutional factors on ICT adoption than to the moderating effect of these factors between ICT adoption and communication effectiveness. In the first case (Table 3), all three sectors show several differences for all technologies. Furthermore, most (4/6) of statistical differences regarding organizational effects occur between CI and EEI (Table 4). The means given in Table 2 show that the environmental sector is less automated. Brady et al. (1999) propose a typology of three transformation stages in SFA. First, there is the automation stage, which ties into the view that ICT have always been primarily a means of automating manual systems and have been used extensively for routine and tactical activities to improve efficiency. Then comes the information stage, which provides increased effectiveness and moves the ICT development processes to a higher level of benefits. Lastly, the transformational stage defines a company with new business operations and practices. This typology could explain our findings. Furthermore, despite its high-tech profile, the EI sample seems to be less advanced in the sales automation process, as a result of limited financial capacity, it is safe to say.