Understanding changes in post-adoption use of Information Systems (IS) : a generalized Darwinism perspective
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
As organizations continue to invest heavily in Information Systems (IS) to support business processes, the underutilization of such systems is a key concern that challenges efforts to exploit their benefits. What is most desirable is for users to engage in forms of deep use that effectively leverage the features of the IS for work tasks. But, too often users engage in surface-level use, minimizing their interactions with the IS. Yet for many users how they use an IS changes over time to become progressively deeper as the IS is embedded more in the performance of various tasks.
To date there has been limited research on post-adoption IS use, particularly on how individuals choose to or are influenced to learn about, selectively adopt and apply, and then extend IS use. This research therefore seeks to bridge a gap in the literature by responding to calls for greater attention to changes in IS post-adoption use. This study draws on evolutionary theory, that is, Generalized Darwinism and its key principles of variation, selection and retention, to understand and explain how individuals’ IS use change over time, as they enact routines supported by the IS.
Using a multi-method research design, this study includes an exploratory phase (qualitative) followed by a confirmatory phase (quantitative). For the qualitative phase, case studies were used to explore change in IS use; a cross-section of 39 users (i.e. basic, intermediate and advanced) of large-scale IS (e.g. CRM) from across three (3) organizations were interviewed. The findings from the qualitative phase coupled Generalized Darwinism principles of variation, selection and retention, supporting theories (e.g. motivation theory) and prior research in IS, were used to develop a conceptual model that framed changes in post-adoption use for further analysis. The model was then tested using data collected from a field survey (86 users) and analyzed using the Partial Least Squares (PLS) approach to structural equation modeling.
The study showed that variations occur as individuals used formerly unused (available) features, modified use of currently used sets of features, substituted or replaced one (already-used) feature with another feature and found novel or innovative uses of IS features. There were also a number of similarities in the findings from the case study and the survey regarding the triggers and enablers of variations and the impact of variations on retention, and in turn the impact of retention on deeper use via emergent use, integrative use and extended use. Both the case studies and the survey confirmed the importance of feedback valence, intrinsic motivation, and domain-related knowledge and of key sub-dimensions such as intrinsic motivation to learn, knowledge of IS features and work process understanding as triggers of variations. Satisfaction, in addition to variations was also instrumental in determining which variants in use were selected and incorporated into one’s work routine (retention).
Furthermore, the results suggest that as changes occurred over time, such changes resulted in more deeply ingrained use behaviours, by way of infusion. At the same time, some differences were observed among the case studies and between the case study outcomes and the survey findings, with some of the factors identified as important in the case findings, such as peer learning, extrinsic motivation, and perceived (IS) resources, not being significant as predictors of variations in the survey context. Overall, the findings on changes in IS use and factors involved provided insights into how change occurs via variation, selection and retention and the outcome of the change (i.e. deeper use). It is anticipated that the findings of this research will contribute to the post-adoption IS use literature and provide useful insights for managers as they tackle the problem of IS underutilization.