Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Informational Influence in Organizations: An Integrated Approach to Knowledge Adoption." By Stephanie Watts Sussman & Wendy Schneier Siegal. In Information Systems Research, Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2003, pp. 47-65.

I came across this paper looking for information on decision making processes in the adoption of Information Technology, which led me to the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and ultimately this paper.

Abstract:"This research investigates how knowledge workers are influenced to adopt the advice that they receive in mediated contexts. The research integrates the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) with dual-process models of information influence to build a theoretical model of information adoption. This model highlights the assessment of information usefulness as a mediator of the information adoption process."

I must admit that I wasn't particularly interested in the findings but much more interested in the model itself and its conceptual underpinnings.

Reading notes:
--- Technology Acceptance Model (TAM): people form intentions to adopt a behavior or technology based on their beliefs about the consequences of adoption and their evaluation of these consequences. --- [that sounds reasonable!]
--- Perceived usefulness is a fundamental predictor of user adoption [sounds pretty obvious!]
--- Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM): Elaboration involves attending to the content of the message, scrutinizing and assessing its content and reflecting on issues relevant to the message.
--- Under conditions of high elaboration likelihood, argument quality is a critical determinant of informational influence.
--- Under conditions of low elaboration likelihood, source credibility is a more critical determinant of informational influence.
--- Source credibility is used in this study as the key peripheral cue that individuals use to assess a message (without any reference to its content). There are other possible peripheral cues that individuals use to assess messages (ex: subject heading, # of people the message is copied to, the status of people the message is copied to, etc...)
--- Prior expertise influences the extent to which individuals are likely to elaborate because of increased ability to process information.
--- Motivational levels also alter recipients' elaboration likelihood.

Why does all this matter?
1. By understanding how people adopt mediated advice (advice sent via email), we can design processes that support effective information adoption. I'm thinking this has important implications for online coaching and support to project staff in the field.

2. The external validity of potentially shared knowledge -- how useful it is for the problem at hand -- is actually more important than the internal validity of that knowledge. In short, just-in-time (valid) knowledge is what people need, so the timing of the advice is important.

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