Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Donald D. Davis

Committee Member

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Robert M. McIntyre

Committee Member

Frank Elio


Over the past two decades computers in research and development organizations have become a complex and integral part of the work process. Yet to date only a handful of systematic investigations have addressed issues involving scientists' or other professionals' use of computers, and very little is known about factors influencing use (Bikson and Gutek, 1983; Blacker and Brown, 1986; Collopy, 1988; Gasser, 1986; Helander, 1985; Nickolson, 1985; Pope, 1985). As a result, this research was designed to address four objectives. The first was to develop and evaluate a descriptive model of variables influencing scientists' computer use. The second objective was to explore the inter-relationships among model variables, and the third was to develop a linear predictive model of use. As a prelude to these objectives, a fourth objective involved development of reliable and valid variable measures, including measures of computer use. Study participants were 104 research scientists from the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center.

Identification and operationalization of model variables resulted in eight reliable and valid measures for the assessment of use-variable relationships. There were three individual difference variables (capability with computers, perceived impact, satisfaction with current tools), two nature of work measures (professions, work activity cluster membership), and three organizational environment variables (importance of computer literacy and skills to management, importance of computer literacy and skills to colleagues, and support system size). Six of these variables proved to be significantly related to participants' computer use, and they fell into three distinct groups or tiers based on their inter-relationships. A linear combination of profession and cluster membership accounted for 58 percent of the variance in scientists' computer use.

Overall, study results indicate that individual scientists' computer use, and by extension organizational computer use, is highly predictable based on scores from a limited set of variables. Study results suggest a three tiered network of variables influencing scientists' computer use, where tiers reflect causal priorities. Considerable research is needed to further delineate this network.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).