Monday, March 10, 2014

Cognitive styles and sense of ownership

My work day is rarely structured: true, there are days which are full of meetings (normally once or twice a week when I travel north) and at the beginning of the month there are quality reports that I prepare, but most days I go to work without knowing what is going to occupy my time. This flexibility allows fast user response, although sometimes it happens that three people need my time and attention simultaneously which is when I have to implement a queuing algorithm or switch into time-sharing mode. Despite the previous sentence, I am not a computer.

Yesterday was a good example: after sending my daily reports (15 minutes), I began going through the mail that had built up in the few days of my absence. This kept me occupied for about an hour and a half, then I had to solve a problem regarding undefined import costs for a part, which led me to check how many other parts also had undefined import costs. So on and so forth.

After about 11am (I start work at 7am), I went into on-call mode, waiting for someone to require my services. In between, I resumed work on the literature review for my doctorate, which has been languishing in the past few weeks. I had found a paper a few days ago which had listed cognitive style (CS) as a factor involved in users' uptake of computer programs (the paper was written nearly thirty years ago, so it mentioned Decision Support Systems instead of ERP), and I wanted to investigate this subject.

After finding several papers discussing CS and computer programs, I decided to add a section in the literature survey but not include CS in my research. This is because there are several methods to measure CS (for example, one involving 40 questions, one involving 80 questions), meaning that there is no universally defined CS. There are papers which cast doubt on the methodology of the CS exams. But for me, the main reason why I decided not to include CS as a measured factor is that the questionnaire which will form the basis of the research currently has about 25 questions - and I don't want to add another 40 questions about cognitive style!

After thinking about this for a few hours, I hit on another factor which wasn't mentioned in the old paper - sense of ownership. This seemed to be a more promising idea: there is plenty of literature about ownership and ERP (although not in the niche which I have found), and one's sense of ownership can be determined in one or two simple questions. The premise is, of course, that the sense of ownership correlates with the user's desire to create her report as quickly and as accurately as possible.

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