Complex information technology usage
Sousa, Rui Manuel Dinis
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Complex information technology often remains under-utilized following implementation. As a result, potentially powerful tools may deliver only limited benefits. These limited benefits may not compensate for what is usually a costly and difficult implementation process. One way for organizations to move from superficial to more comprehensive usage is to get users to go beyond the basic capabilities of the system and uncover new ways of using it, either on their own or helped by others, i.e., through exploratory use. This study focuses on ERP systems as an example of complex IT. Building from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), sets of salient behavioral, normative, and control beliefs are identified as determinants of the intention to explore. To engage in the exploratory use of complex technologies, users will likely need to overcome significant knowledge and motivational barriers. Thus, key knowledge and motivational factors are hypothesized to impact intention to explore and exploratory use through the previous identified sets of beliefs. Hypothesis testing is performed with structural equation modeling, using data collected through a cross-sectional field survey of ERP users. Based on the empirical findings, users intend to engage in exploratory use because they recognize first the potential benefits (perceived usefulness of exploratory use), they feel the pressure (subjective norm), and have confidence on their abilities (specific computer self-efficacy for exploratory use) to do it. These abilities come from knowing how to use the system (procedural knowledge) and how the different parts of the system work together to accomplish organizational tasks (application conceptual knowledge). Among the different types of knowledge, application conceptual knowledge is the major contributor to better understanding of the usefulness in exploring the system, which emerged as the strongest direct determinant of intention to explore. Perceived risk of exploratory use, perceived ease of exploratory use, resource facilitating conditions, business context knowledge and psychological ownership are the constructs that did not operate as expected and call for further research. Management attention is called particularly to the development of application conceptual knowledge so users can be on their own while exploring complex IT to get the most benefits out of it.