Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Of Disobedience, Divinations, Monsters and Fumbling: Adopting a Self-Service System

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Of Disobedience, Divinations, Monsters and Fumbling: Adopting a Self-Service System

Article excerpt

Introduction

The present study investigated a self-service based human resources management system (HRMS) in a company code-named the Canadian Utilities Company. The software platform for HRMS was mySAP[TM]--a recent version of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software by SAP corporation. The adoption or acceptance of information systems (ISes) is one of the classical problems in the IS field. It has been studied from the perspective of behavioral drivers that make individual organization members involve ISes in everyday work. For example, the well-known Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989) posits that users' perception of system usefulness and ease of use are antecedents to the user's intention to actually use the system. Essentially, the user is placed in a role of an evaluating agency that determines whether systems are adopted.

Other approaches to system adoption include models that build on the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991). One driving concept, for example, refers to the subjective norm (the user's perception of other people's opinions about his or her behavior). Another refers to perceived behavioral control (the user's perception of constraints affecting his or her behavior) (e.g., Taylor & Todd, 1995). Furthermore, theories of dissemination of innovation have also been deployed in studying systems acceptance. Systems characteristics, for ex-ample, can play a decisive role (e.g., Karahanna, Straub, & Chervany, 1999). These approaches have made significant contributions to understanding the psychology and action of the system adopter. Still, it can be argued that a sharpening of analytical lenses is warranted.

IS research needs to focus more precisely on the key concepts that distinguish its subject of adoption from all others. As the perspective of Information View of Organization (IVO) suggests (Travica, 2003, 2004, 2005a, 2005b, and forthcoming book), one way to do this is by examining closely information and information technology (IT). The models of adoption cited above are applicable to any context. One can adopt an IS as well as a new car; one can plan behavior related to system adoption as well as to the way one asks for a raise in pay; and the dissemination of an innovation could relate to any new thing under an organization's roof, including a multi-million ERP system. In each of these adoption instances, similar psychological factors are at play. Al-though this assumption is tenable on the ground of general systems theory and helps in under-standing certain aspects of user behavior, the question remains: how is adoption of IS different from other adoptions? How can IS research distinguish its subject of research from approaches taken in so-called "reference disciplines" (Baskerville & Myers, 2002; Steinbach & Knight, 2006) beyond linguistic changes in data collection instruments, which merely designate some systems to be the subject of users' adoptive deliberations? The study reported in this article is an attempt in this direction. It draws on the cognitive part of the IVO framework, which brings to the fore characteristics of individual organization members (perception, thinking, feeling, learning, and knowledge), problems of meaning (one form of information in the IVO framework), and symbols--all centered on particulars of a specific IS.

Another motive behind this study is to fill a void in research on self-service systems. These systems require end-users to directly manipulate a system without the help of intermediaries. Many people routinely resort to self-service when using ATM machines or shopping on the Web. In the organizational context, elimination of intermediaries means that data entry, querying, and other system tasks are the duties of casual users rather than of trained "power or expert users" serving as intermediaries. This increment in work of casual users may be perceived differently--sometimes as desirable (e. …

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