Dead or Alive? the Development, Trajectory and Future of Technology Adoption Research

By Venkatesh, Viswanath; Davis, Fred D. et al. | Journal of the Association for Information Systems, April 2007 | Go to article overview
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Dead or Alive? the Development, Trajectory and Future of Technology Adoption Research


Venkatesh, Viswanath, Davis, Fred D., Morris, Michael G., Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Abstract:

Research on individual-level technology adoption is one of the most mature streams of information systems (IS) research. In this paper, we compare the progress in the area of technology adoption with two widely-researched streams in psychology and organizational behavior: theory of planned behavior and job satisfaction. In addition to gauging the progress in technology adoption research, this allows us to identify some fruitful areas for future research. Based on our comparison, we conclude that there has been excellent progress in technology adoption research. However, as a next step, we call for research focused on interventions, contingencies, and alternative theoretical perspectives (to the largely social psychology-based technology adoption research. Also, we believe it would be important to use the comparisons discussed here as a basis to develop a framework-driven set of future research directions to guide further work in this area.

Introduction

Neither a conference trip nor a visit to a university goes by without us being asked about the state of technology adoption research or, more specifically, technology acceptance model (TAM) research. In different forums, including the Decision Sciences International Conference in Boston in 2004 and the Gordon B. Davis Symposium in Minneapolis in 2005, we have tried to address this question, and we are excited to have the opportunity to continue the dialog in the Journal of the Association of Information Systems. Our typical answer to the question, "Is technology adoption research is dead?" has been, "Yes and no." The answer is "yes" if the inquiry implies a continuation of replications with no substantive theoretical advance. Such a state is clearly undesirable in any area of research, and technology adoption research seems to see a lot of replication with minor "tweaking." This is perhaps due to the parsimony of TAM, the robustness of its scales, and the strong generalizability of the model. However, the "no" part of our typical response stems from the tremendous opportunities that are still available to make substantial theoretical advances using our current knowledge as the starting point. In this paper, we make the case that technology adoption research is, in fact, "dead" in its most common current form-replication and minor extensions-but there are opportunities for future advances.

In this analysis, we respond to those who [rightfully] question the future of this area. Specifically, we chart the course of the progress of technology adoption research over the past two decades or so. We compare this progress with that of research in two prominent areas of research in psychology and organizational behavior-specifically, the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and job satisfaction. The first area, TPB research, provides us with a basis to conduct a model-centric comparison given that much of technology adoption research has relied on TAM. The second focus area, job satisfaction research, provides us with a basis for an outcome-centric comparison. That is, just as job satisfaction is a key job outcome of interest, technology adoption and/or use is a key outcome of interest from the perspective of system success (see DeLone and McLean 1992, 2003). Our earlier review and synthesis provides an extensive and detailed discussion of technology adoption research and presents the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT; Venkatesh et al. 2003). It is not our intent to repeat such a review here; rather, we hope to catalog major milestones and the progress of technology adoption research and then draw comparisons with advances in TPB and job satisfaction research.

Progression of Technology Adoption Research

While individual-level technology adoption has been studied for well over two decades, it gained prominence with the introduction of TAM (Davis 1989; Davis et al. 1989), which integrated diverse theoretical perspectives and built on social psychology research and presented a parsimonious model of adoption and use.

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