Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

The State of Research on Information System Satisfaction

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

The State of Research on Information System Satisfaction

Article excerpt


Satisfaction with information systems (IS) has been and remains to be of great interest to both scholars and practitioners. The conceptualization of the construct, the theories employed to explain/predict it and the contexts of the empirical studies have changed considerably over time. Early research investigated system characteristics affecting end-user satisfaction, relying mostly on the IS success model. More recent research, on the other hand, studied satisfaction formation in the context of web-based products and services, using the disconfirmation theory originally developed in marketing. In this paper, we describe the evolution of IS satisfaction research and discuss the applicability of the marketing theories to IS contexts. We also explain the importance of further development and suggest future research directions.


Satisfaction has been on the IS research agenda for decades. It appeals to both scholars and practitioners with its theoretical and practical significance. Early IS researchers, e.g., Ives, Olson and Baroudi (1983); and Bailey and Pearson (1983), examined user satisfaction as a function of system characteristics. Satisfaction was frequently used as a surrogate for IS success as it is linked to the success construct in a number of conceptual and empirical aspects (Bailey and Pearson, 1983). It also enjoys a higher degree of face and convergent validity than other common success proxies such as usage and perceived usefulness. Usage is not an appropriate measure when it is mandatory. Perceived usefulness, on the other hand, fails to capture the affect of the users (Ein-Dor and Segev, 1978). The IS success model (DeLone and McLean, 1992) has served for a long time as the main framework for studying satisfaction. Some studies were conducted in the end-user computing environment and modeled system quality and information quality as the key determinants of satisfaction (Doll and Torkzadeh, 1988; Seddon, 1997; McHaney et al., 2002). Others examined service quality as another important determinant of satisfaction (Pitt et al., 1995; DeLone and McLean, 2002). With the emergence of electronic commerce, the distinction between end-users and customers blurred igniting a renewed interest in satisfaction with the focus shifting to online customer satisfaction. The importance of the online customer satisfaction topic to practitioners is mainly due to the strong relationship between satisfaction and retention (Rust and Zahorik, 1993; Rust, Zahorik and Keiningham, 1995; Hallowell, 1996). Customer retention is much cheaper than acquiring new customers (Crockett, 2000). The proliferation of Internet businesses presents even greater challenges to customer retention, as the costs of switching vendors are becoming lower.

Since the end-user of e-commerce applications is also a customer, recent IS studies applied behavioral theories originally developed in the marketing literature to explain end-user/customer satisfaction (McKinney, Yoon and Zahedi, 2002; Bhattacherjee, 2001). One such theory is the disconfirmation theory (Churchill and Suprenant, 1982). The disconfirmation theory stipulates that satisfaction is determined by a comparison between the perception of performance and a cognitive standard (Oliver and DeSarbo, 1988). Numerous marketing studies drew upon this theory to explain or predict satisfaction in the contexts of traditional products and services. Results are mixed, however, regarding the appropriate standard to adopt. Some of the initial studies relied on expectations as the benchmark (Churchill and Suprenant, 1982), while others proposed the use of experience-based norms (Woodruff, Cadotte and Jenkins, 1983). To enhance the logical consistency of the disconfirmation model, several subsequent studies replaced these standards with desires (Suh, Kim and Lee, 1994).

More recently, satisfaction was modeled as a simultaneous outcome of expectation and desire disconfirmation (Spreng, MacKenzie and Olshavsky, 1996; Chin and Lee, 2000; Khalifa and Liu, 2002a &c). …

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