The relationship between attributional style and information technology project perception
Date of Award
Doctor of Business Administration
Faculty of Business and Law
The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between attributional style and Information Technology (IT) project perception at varying job responsibility levels. To achieve this thirty participants were recruited from a large government department in the three distinct job responsibility levels of support worker (i.e. individual who undertakes activities under general direction), line manager (i.e. individual who undertakes activities under limited direction and typically performs role of team leader) and executive manager (i.e. individual who undertakes activities that involve a high a level of management skill under broad direction) and interviewed using a modified Work Attributional Style Questionnaire (WASQ) with emergent themes subsequently explored through four focus groups. Based on the research findings all job responsibility levels tend to exhibit an optimistic attributional style that characterises positive work adjustment and self-esteem. However, the attribution of failure to causes that will persist in future projects by all job responsibility levels alongside the attribution of failure to causes that have impacts beyond the project by line and executive managers have the potential to undermine this tendency to exhibit an optimistic attributional style. Reasons for the attribution of failure to causes that have impacts beyond the project include the adverse impact on perceived professionalism by peers following failure, continued inability to influence stakeholders and/or management, strategic impact of the project failure and the daunting complexity of the social and technical challenges at the macro level Whilst the tendency to exhibit an optimistic attributional style by all job responsibility levels is indicative of positive work adjustment and selfesteem, practitioners should be cognisant that individuals exhibiting an optimistic attributional style are less likely to take responsibility for IT project failure (i.e. attribute failure to situational and uncontrollable causes). This has the potential to adversely impact organisational learning. To increase the likelihood of individuals taking responsibility for IT project failure practitioners should seek to encourage individuals to freely admit to faults and acknowledge errors whilst seeking to preserve their self-worth.
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Kordt, E. (2008). The relationship between attributional style and information technology project perception. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/186