Release Date: March 15, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The exploding popularity of programs like ChatGPT has organizations looking closely at how artificial intelligence can be adopted in the workplace, and new University at Buffalo School of Management research reveals that getting employees to use AI depends on two factors: employee attitudes toward the technology and the degree to which they can choose to work with it.
Available online ahead of publication in Group & Organizational Management, the study looked at employees with both positive and negative attitudes about AI, and whether management gave them a choice in using it to see how that affected their team collaboration.
The researchers found when AI is viewed positively by the team, forcing them to use it actually suppresses collaboration. Conversely, when a team has negative attitudes toward AI, mandatory use increases team collaboration.
“This asymmetry has to do with the fact that taking away a team’s autonomy made those who were open to AI more resistant,” says the study’s lead author, Kate Bezrukova, PhD, chair and associate professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management. “On the other hand, when teams already had a negative attitude toward AI, a push from management actually helped.”
Using an integrative review, the researchers analyzed papers from across social psychology, information systems, engineering and other disciplines to create a team-level conceptual framework. The articles included research on a wide range of AI uses, including helping doctors diagnose illnesses, scheduling, and even for rescue missions using robot dogs.
The researchers say their findings show the importance of managing team attitudes and how developing strategies that give employees the discretion to work with AI will help optimize collaboration.
“The answer to the question about people collaborating with AI is more nuanced than simply, ‘Will they or won’t they?’,” Bezrukova says. “Managers should be aware of a variety of responses when AI is introduced into the workplace.”
Bezrukova collaborated on the study with Terri Griffith, PhD, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship, Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business; Vincent Rice, UB School of Management doctoral student; Chester Spell, PhD, professor of management, Rutgers University School of Business, Camden; and Evangeline Yang, PhD ’22, assistant professor, IESEG School of Management.