Positive synergy in the design, development and implementation of successful management information systems : individual differences revisited



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Management Information Systems (MIS) users' individual differences have received considerable attention from researchers since Mason and Mitroff's classic 1973 statement that an information system "... consists of at least one PERSON of a certain PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE..." Often, the focus of this research has been on various measures of an individual decision maker's performance as a function of cognitive style. Yet the empirical results have failed to significantly explain any performance differences and accordingly, Huber (1983) has claimed there has been "Much Ado About Nothing." Zmud's 1979 review of individual differences research in MIS included cognitive style, personality, demographic and situational variables and their effect on information processing and decision behavior, and hence, success of the information system. However, the quantity of research on these variables as they affect the implementation process is considerably less and, of that subset, the focus is usually on the users only. Yet, there are a few authors who suggest that differences between users and analysts may be an important area to examine with the hope of improving the implementation process and thus the likelihood of developing a successful MIS. For example, Kaiser and Bostrom (1982) state that "[t]he failure to establish a semantic bridge between the different ways system personnel and users conceptualize situations may explain many system failures." They suggest using personality type information and training to create a climate for integrative problem solving. White (1984) conveys the same thought: "Technology alone is insufficient to implement effective systems without full utilization of the human resources who develop such technology." White recommends using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) with project teams and instructing them in the characteristic strengths of each type. A laboratory experiment was performed to examine the impact on individuals and teams of analysts' "knowledge of cognitive style" involved in the group task of developing a transaction processing system. Each information systems development team also acted as users for another team's system in the role of EDP Auditors. Hence they can be thought of as project teams consisting of both users and analysts. Project teams undergoing training in the constructive use of knowledge of cognitive style produced computerized payroll systems that were judged to have higher quality than those of teams without such training. The results suggest that training analysts in the use of a Jungian-based framework for understanding individual differences can improve the quality of work produced by the information systems development team.



Management information systems--Psychological aspects, Cognitive styles