IT Cultures Influence Employee Trust - InformationWeek
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Kelly Ann Smith
Kelly Ann Smith
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IT Cultures Influence Employee Trust

A corporate culture study surveyed 152 Interop Las Vegas attendees to evaluate IT employee trust in organic and mechanistic cultures.

I recently had the opportunity to survey 152 Interop attendees during the Las Vegas conference as part of my dissertation for my Doctorate degree in Business and Technology.

The focus of my research is corporate culture. This is defined as the "routine way of doing things that people accept and live by." It is a "created" environment. A corporation’s culture reflects the values, priorities, and vision of its leadership. I compared IT employee characteristics across four types of corporate culture: 1) organic, 2) organic-mechanistic, 3) mechanistic-organic, and 4) mechanistic.

Organic and mechanistic cultures represent opposite extremes. On one extreme, organic cultures put little emphasis on the chain of command or division of work. Communication is free flowing vertically as well as laterally. On the other extreme, mechanistic cultures emphasize the chain of command. Work is divided strictly by function. Communication is vertical in nature.

My question was, "Which type of culture influences employee trust?"

The results were clear. Overall IT employee trust was significantly higher in organic cultures than in mechanistic cultures. When I broke trust into five sub-types, all five were significantly higher in organic cultures than in mechanistic cultures. Compared to IT employees whose employers were mechanistic, IT employees whose employers were organic reported that their leadership was more competent. They felt that their leadership was more reliable, open, and honest. They reported that their "organic" company showed more concern for them personally. They identified more strongly with the company. Such employees are unlikely to look for another job. Trust did not differ by employee age or ethnicity.

If you are interested in further information on the effect of corporate culture on employee trust, performance, and retention, feel free to send me an email: My sincere thanks go to Jennifer Jessup and her team for giving me this valuable opportunity, and to all of the people who participated in the study.

Dr. Kelly Ann Smith has worked in the Information Technology industry for 25 years. She has held both technical and managerial positions, and is currently an IT Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Kelly Ann Smith recently earned her Doctorate in ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/30/2015 | 9:24:58 AM
Re: Great Information For IT Leadership
Hi, Yes, my conclusion is also in sync with my years of experience as well. It is nice to know!  You mention talent retention, which is precisely why I wanted to do this study.  Managers need to find ways to keep those that have the knowledge and skills particular to their organization.  Voluntary turnover is extremely costly--both monetarily and non-monetarily.

As for organic cultures and innovation, it's funny you mentioned this, because I looked at many different aspects to measure culture against:  loyalty, performance, and innovation were evaluated.  However, I selected "Trust" because "Trust" impacts all of these and more!   


My study specifically measured Trust, but think that you will find that when Innovation is measured, the results will be very similar!


Thank you so much for the interest.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2015 | 11:09:18 PM
Great Information For IT Leadership
Kelly, thanks so much for this article and congratulations on your doctorate. Your conclusion also matches my years of experience in the IT industry. Your study would be helpful to IT leaders who are interested in talent retention in some areas that are increasingly competitive. I would be interested in knowing whether you had any indication in your conclusions regarding how organic cultures affect innovation. Thanks again and I look forward to reading more.
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