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NEWS & INSIGHTS | article

What is the point of technology if no one uses it?

25 February 2021 3 minute read

New research delivered in partnership between Robert Gordon University (RGU) and OGTC provides insight into technology uptake in the oil and gas industry and the psychological factors which influence innovation adoption culture.

Dr Ruby Roberts, Research Fellow and Organisational Psychologist, and Professor Rhona Flin, Professor of Industrial Psychology, both of RGU’s Aberdeen Business School, have been looking at the psychological factors which influence technology uptake in the oil and gas industry and understanding the psychological processes that govern technology adoption and deployment decisions.

They have recently had two papers published on the research – an interview study for Technology, Mind & Behaviour (American Psychology Association journal) and a case study for Technovation (an innovation journal).

Speaking of the developments, Dr Roberts said:

“Innovation is set to play a significant role in building a sustainable future: for example, the oil and gas industry transitioning into an integrated energy sector. Yet in recent years, this sector has developed a reputation for being conservative and reluctant to adopt new technology.

“Whilst the industry is working towards an integrated energy vision, adopting innovative technologies can still be sluggish. The current climate, organisational restructuring and budget cuts can all negatively impact on innovative activities. So, how can we accelerate innovation uptake in the face of these challenges?

“Given that it is individuals who make both big and small technology decisions, it is unsurprising that human psychology can have a powerful impact on technology adoption. Keeping this in mind, Professor Rhona Flin and I took an alternative approach by examining the psychological factors which influence technology adoption decisions in upstream oil and gas.

“Over the course of the two-year project, six key psychological factors were identified. These ranged from how innovative decision makers are, whether the technology and service provider were trusted, individual’s attitudes towards innovation, to risk perceptions and expertise.”

The findings indicated a need to better understand the influence that the organisational culture can have on how people respond to and introduce technology within their company. To bridge this gap, a survey of organisational innovation adoption culture has been developed and this new measure is currently being deployed as part of an industry benchmarking study of innovation adoption culture within oil and gas.

Luca Corradi, Innovation Network Director at OGTC, commented:

“Recently, we’ve witnessed how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our thinking and changed societal behaviour, particularly around climate change. This has been particularly evident in the oil and gas industry, where the adoption of new technology has a direct impact on realising a net zero North Sea.

“In the past, there has been a reluctance to accept and deploy innovative technology, therefore understanding the psychological factors that impact decision making, particularly now, will crucially increase the uptake of game-changing technologies that support the energy transition.”

Dr Roberts will host a webinar to give an overview of the research and measure, as well as recommendations on how to support an innovation adoption culture with reference to the wider broader context of digitalisation and energy transition.

The free event will be held on Thursday, February 26. For more information, and to attend, please visit:

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