The Role of Task Uncertainty in IT Project Team Advice Networks

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Advice seeking is often the most critical success factor in today's IT project teams. To understand how advice seekers are motivated, we integrate the antecedents of advice seeking—as defined by network theory (Granovetter, 1983)—into a cost/benefit model based on expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964). To contribute to the research on advice network formation, we integrate the role of task uncertainty—one of the defining characteristics of IT projects—into that research (Wallace & Keil, 2004). Based on a controlled quasi-experiment, this study demonstrates that when task uncertainty is low, individuals with attractive personalities and similar demographics will be sought out for advice more frequently, regardless of their knowledge and resources (i.e., the benefits to the advice seekers). However, when task uncertainty is high, individuals with greater knowledge and access to resources are sought out more often in an advice network. These results provide clarity to prior research that has found mixed results concerning the effectiveness of the traditional antecedents to advice seeking (e.g., knowledge, power, and transactive memory) (e.g., Xu, Kim, & Kankanhalli, 2010a). In addition, project managers may choose to alter their team structure in order to optimize the advice network based on the anticipated level of IT project risk or task uncertainty.

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Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education




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