Insightful implementers refocus user
ambivalence and resistance toward trust
and acceptance of new systems.
By DoNGBack seo, aLBeRt BooNstRa,
aND maRJoLeiN offeNBeek
PUrSUinG ContinUoUS teChnoLoGY improvement
and innovation, organizations of all kinds introduce
new systems almost daily, hoping they are adopted
by employees, suppliers, customers, and others.
From e-reader vendors (such as Amazon and Apple)
to insurance companies communicating with their
customers through Web applications, the goal is to
inspire employees and customers alike to adopt and
use new systems. However, despite the best efforts of
IS developers, project managers, and trainers, new
systems are not always adopted and used as intended.
Lacking commitment and constructive feedback from
targeted users, IS adoption may simply fail.
Here, we explore user behavior toward adopting
systems, provide a way to classify users into groups,
and suggest strategies for dealing with each such
group. Research tends to categorize
user behavior in terms of either acceptance3 or resistance,
6 a view that fails to
acknowledge that such behavior covers
a range of ambivalence.
12 While people
may generally use technology they support, other responses are common as
well. For example, Linux workstations
have enthusiastic supporters who
nevertheless do not use them due to
personal or organizational barriers.
There are also people who routinely
yet only grudgingly use Microsoft Office applications. Such behavior—
“supporting but no or low usage” and
“resisting but high usage”—is ambivalent. Here, we address how implementers can deal with groups showing ambivalent behavior.
Research findings on IS adoption
offer little guidance, with researchers
focusing on either people’s acceptance
by measuring their IS use or use-inten-tions (such as Ajzen and Fishbein2 and
Davis3) or their resistance by measuring
their supporting/resisting behaviors
(such as Joshi4). In doing so, “
acceptance” and “resistance” have, implicitly
or explicitly, been conceptualized as an
either/or proposition, the opposite ends
of a single closed dimension.
Consequently, user ambivalence remains
largely hidden in the literature. Here,
we present a case from the Netherlands
that highlights two hidden groups of intended users with ambivalent behaviors
in adopting an electronic prescription
system (EPS) for the country’s general
medical practitioners (GPs).
;;; the traditional one-dimensional view of
users’ system-adoption behavior, from
acceptance to resistance, prompted
us to explore a more nuanced two-dimensional view, from “high-use versus
non-use” to “support versus resistance.”
;;; the two-dimensional view highlights
inclusion of groups defined by their
ambivalent behavior, from “supporting
non-users” to “resisting users.”
;;; implementers should aim to develop
customized strategies to turn potential
users into “supporting and high usage”
users of new systems.