IT subculture creates discord

Unless technology workers learn the language of business they’ll remain a support function not a strategic partner
By David Brown
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/28/2004

They are an essential part of most organizations, but many IT departments develop their own workplace subculture, leading to discord and conflict in everything from major projects to minor desktop problems, according to a recent study.

As many as 75 per cent of IT-related projects fail, and it could be largely due to the fact that IT people comprise a distinct subculture that is often in conflict with managers and front-line employees using technology, says Jeffrey Stanton, a professor at New York state’s Syracuse University. Stanton, a specialist in technology in the workplace, led a group of researchers who studied 12 New York organizations that were installing major IT projects.

“Occupational subcultures are groups of individuals who, based upon their occupation, develop their own language, values and behaviours that distinguish them from other groups within an organization,” he says. It is clear that many IT departments exhibit these characteristics.