Employees and AI

This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

Dr. Xu, Dr. Kee, Dr. Li, Dr. Yamamoto, and Dr. Riggs sought to better understand the adoption attitudes of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace over time. Specifically, they sought to understand this adoption process through the lens of diffusion of innovations theory, which explains how different types of people and groups adopt technologies over time, and varying attitudes to new innovations among society and how that impacts adoption rate and acceptance. Within the workplace, the scholars wanted to see how employees perceive the threat of AI (e.g., threat to employee job security) and other negative attitudes of AI by employees over time.

The researchers conducted three surveys to have a time-based perspective to data collection and subsequent findings, collecting survey responses from American employees (18 years or older) in March 2022, April 2022, and May 2022. The final sample included 890 participants for the first survey, 671 for the second, and 553 for the final survey, which yields an 82% retention rate for all three surveys. The survey participants were similarly split across gender with 49.72% female and 50.28% male. 

Key Findings include:

1.) The survey found that previously held negative views (e.g., threat) of AI negatively influenced attitudes of AI adoption, and that previously held positive views of AI (e.g., compatibility) positively influenced AI adoption attitudes.
2.) Trialability (the ability to test AI technologies and use them) was found to positively impact individuals who already had a positive attitude towards AI, increasing their positive perceptions.
3.) Observability, or the ability to observe others using AI, was found to decrease the negative perceptions of AI for participants who previously held negative views.
4.) Employees’ support for AI adoption had a downward, decreasing trend over the 3 month study period.

Implications for Practice:

Employers have the opportunity to show the ease of use, benefits, and compatibility of AI with current work processes in order to increase positive attitudes among their workforces. Additionally, when those with negative attitudes observed AI at work, it can decrease their negative perceptions. Employers should take a mixed approach, giving those with the interest in AI the opportunity to get their hands on technologies and use them (increasing their positive perceptions) and create situations for those with more cautious or pre-existing negative perceptions to directly observe others in the workplace using AI, which may ease some of their negative predispositions.  

Read the original research here.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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