User perceptions of technology and the office

Smith, Heather Alison (1995) User perceptions of technology and the office. Doctoral thesis, London Guildhall University.


There appears to be a lack of research into user perceptions of technology and the office. Five studies of user perceptions of technology and the office were completed using questionnaires devised by the author (Studies 1-3), evaluation of videos produced by manufacturers (Study 4), and content analysis of media articles about computer-based technology (Study 5). In Study 1 eight factors were identified: information-handling, human contact, paper-handling, financial security, communication, technology, work, and health preservation. These factors reflected key features mentioned by respondents and accounted for 80.4% of the variance. In Study 2 subjects perceived that they would choose technology significantly more often than non-technology for document preparation, information management, and communication, and non-technology significantly more often than technology for decision-making. In Study 3 it was found that users and the computer industry seem to share broadly similar views of the nature of the Ideal Office’. However, while users appeared to emphasize an enhanced version of existing systems current developments seem to have the potential to create radical changes in the way people work and live. In Study 4 evaluation of video presentations about two prototype computer systems suggested that user perceptions could be deployed to evaluate the suitability of computer systems for application in different situations. In Study 5 content analysis of media portrayal of the computer industry supported the idea that the perceptions of technology and the office held by both users and the computer industry can also be categorised according to the eight dimensions identified above - thus, showing some convergence between the findings of different studies using different methodological approaches. However, whereas the users regarded all the dimensions as of broadly similar importance, the computer industry as represented by journalists appeared to regard technical details and financial issues as paramount. The thesis highlights the role of understanding user perceptions when evaluating technology and considering office work.

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