Implementing information systems
Expectancy theory has been applied to user acceptance of new information systems, with implementation research suggesting that user attitudes toward technological systems are critical.12 If organizations hope to implement expert systems, employees must believe the outcomes associated with learning the new system are valuable.
A team of American researchers used expectancy theory to examine the necessary motivations for successful implementation of new information systems.12 They were curious about four potential outcomes:
- Improved and more effective decision making;
- More efficient decision making;
- Higher frequency of making correct decision; and,
- Increased job insight based on the learning stimulated by the system.
Ninety-five MBA students completing an information systems course were given a case study, where they were loan officers at a commercial bank.12 They were told that a new expert system was available to help determine eligibility of loan applications. This problem-solving computer program assisted in making loan approval decisions by judging financial attributes of companies. Regardless of whether the system was used, the loan officers would be responsible for loan decisions. Using the expert system was voluntary and participants could decide the extent to which they used the system.
Participants were asked to judge the overall attractiveness of using the system to its maximum extent, and the perceived likelihood that it would help users achieve the four outcomes listed above.12 This judgement was meant to reflect valence, and participants also rated their motivation to use the new system, based on the four outcomes. The researchers found that greater valence was associated with increased motivation to use the new expert system, showing that expectancy theory can be applied early in the design phase of system development.
Tenure and productivity
Universities are increasingly relying on performance assessments to determine salaries and tenure awards for faculty members.13 Being denied tenure can result in personal, professional, emotional, and financial consequences for the faculty member, and can decrease their investment in the institution. On the other hand, being awarded tenure will increase job security, and prior motivation research has suggested that productivity tends to suffer on the basis of long-term job security.14
As a result, some worry that once tenure is achieved and job security increases, motivation levels of faculty members will be negatively affected.13 Considering the potential impact of tenure on a university’s effectiveness, researchers have applied expectancy theory to examine the motivation and productivity implications of awarding tenure.
Pre-tenure and post-tenure data on research productivity levels was compared among a group of twenty-four faculty members.13 Productivity was defined as scholarly research activity in the form of published journal articles. Among these faculty members, there was a significant decline in research publications for tenured faculty, equating to a 42% reduction. Thus, the results supported expectancy theory predictions on increased job security and decreased productivity.
Notably, this effect is also tied to valence, similar to findings in academic achievement 5 6 and implementing information systems.12 Since tenured faculty already achieved research success, it is unlikely that productivity declines were attributed to expectancy effects, such as doubt in their ability to achieve the outcome.13 It is also unlikely that there is no value placed on research productivity, ruling out instrumentality effects. Rather, productivity declines were likely attributed to value perceptions of higher sustainability of published research, reflecting valence. While there are other possible reasons for publication declines, the results appear to support expectancy theory and the emphasis on valence, consistent with other case studies.