Perceived usefulness is the perception from the point of view of a prospective user that using a specific application will increase his or her job performance within an organisational context ( Davis 1989). Perceived ease of use is the degree to which the prospective user expects the target system to be free of effort ( Davis 1989). User participation refers to the behaviour and activities of users or their representatives during the system development process ( Hartwick and Barki 1994). User participation has three distinct dimensions: overall responsibility, User_IS relationship, and hands-on activity ( Hartwick and Barki 1994). Participation occurs at three levels: instrumental voice, non- instrumental voice, and no voice ( Hunton and Beeler 1997). Instrumental voice participation occurs when users have an opportunity to express their opinions, preferences and concerns to the designer and have their opinions taken on board giving the users a sense of control. Non instrumental voice occurs when users are allowed to evaluate decisions outcome giving users a sense of illusory control. Finally, no voice implies no participation.
The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) ( Davis 1989; Davis et al. 1989) was used in this study. TAM is specifically tailored to model the user acceptance of information systems and provide an explanation of the determinants of computer acceptance in general ( Davis 1989). TAM (Figure 1) postulates that computer usage is determined by behavioural intention to use (BI) and that the latter is jointly determined by perceived ease of use (EOU) and perceived usefulness (U). The latter two, in turn, are determined by external variables. BI has been shown to be the strongest predictor of actual use ( Davis et al. 1989).
Consequently, the external variable to TAM in this study is user participation. User participation during the development process is through the User_IS relationship with instrumental and non-instrumental voice (voiceU_IS). Thus, users who participate will be in a position to influence the usefulness and the ease of use of the application. Additionally, not all potential users will have a chance to participate (noU_IS) and their perceptions need to be evaluated. Figure 2 shows the theoretical model tested in this study.