Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Shared Benefits and Information Privacy: What Determines Smart Meter Technology Adoption?

Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Shared Benefits and Information Privacy: What Determines Smart Meter Technology Adoption?

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

The extant research on individual decisions to adopt information technologies has addressed a plethora of variables that influence the decision process. In addition to effort expectancy, performance expectancy, and social influence, research has investigated many other beliefs and perceptions related to adoption in various contexts and individuals' rational assessments of perceived associated costs and benefits. However, the information systems (IS) research community has not yet empirically evaluated the role of shared benefits. Such benefits accrue to the entire society and are factors in individuals' decisions to adopt a technology. To fill this gap in the IS literature, we extend the existing theoretical frameworks of information privacy and technology adoption by examining the role of shared benefits in decisions to adopt smart metering technology (SMT).

In this study, we also evaluate the role of the perceived psychological ownership of information in influencing users' perceptions of privacy, which we identify as a salient factor in technology adoption decisions. To investigate this nomological network, we chose SMT, which research has not yet fully scrutinized but provides an ideal opportunity to explore the unique relationships often found in these contexts. For instance, in the case of individual consumers' adopting smart meters, consumers may realize shared benefits due to the collective utility savings of avoiding the need for expensive peak demand power generation, decreased dependence on fossil fuels, reduced greenhouse emissions, and increased national energy security. These shared factors may overshadow the allure of the direct benefit: personal financial savings gained from adopting smart meters.

1.1 Theory Contextualization

Management scholars have called for improving theory formation (Gregor & Klein, 2014) and theory contextualization to increase the rigor of the theorizing process and the theories themselves. Johns (2006) shows how context could influence theory and theorizing. Salovaara and Merikivi (2015) suggest that, by re-examining published studies to verify or extend their findings, researchers could increase the knowledge of the boundary conditions of existing theories and strengthen the research community by accelerating the exchange of information between researchers. Seddon and Scheepers (2012, 2015) reiterate this recommendation and suggest that the boundary conditions of published studies be tested to determine whether the original findings could be replicated in a new environment or not. Joshi and Roh (2009) provide a roadmap for context-focused research and urge researchers to account for context more carefully in their research, which would facilitate greater theoretical integration of both macro- and micro-levels of analysis and pave the way for new theoretical developments. Researchers have described context in various ways. For instance, Cappelli and Sherer (1991) define it as the surroundings that help illuminate the focal phenomenon. Johns (2006) defines context as the surrounding phenomena that are external to the focus of the study, such as the individual, which often exist at a different level of analysis. Whetten (2009) provides a framework for cross-context theorizing and explicates how theory contextualization determines the extent to which a theory explicitly accounts for relevant contextual conditions and enables scholars to provide a theoretical contribution.

In an editorial in the Academy of Management Journal, Bamberger (2008) suggests that, in our research, we can and should increasingly give greater consideration to the role of context-"that amorphous concept capturing theory-relevant, surrounding phenomena or temporal conditions" (p. 839). He recommends that authors should "incorporate into their theoretical models how particular situational or temporal factors...might play a role in explaining the phenomena they are examining" (p. …

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