A Configurational Model for Organizational Adoption of Technology

Project: Research

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Information Technology (IT) has become an indispensable part of today's business organizations. Consequently, research into organizational adoption of technology is gaining pace. The Technology–Organization–Environment (TOE) framework is one of the most prominent theories applied by researchers to explain firms’ adoption of technology. However, despite the broad application of TOE, past studies have yield controversial findings. This proposed study aims to address these controversial findings within the extant literature on TOE.We contend that there might be two plausible reasons for these mixed findings. One plausible reason for it could be attributed to an over-simplistic interpretation of TOE. Although the original conception of TOE has attested to interdependencies among the three elements of TOE in driving organizational technology adoption, these interdependencies were forsaken in successive applications of the framework. To better capture these interdependencies, this proposed study goes beyond the prevalent variance approach to embrace a configurational view of organizational technology adoption.A second probable cause for the controversial findings could be attributed to the past studies’ lack of consideration of the inclination of top management to weigh the three elements differently based on their strategic orientations. Prior research has shown that while top managements with functional orientation may be concerned with technology-induced performance improvement, top managements with symbolic orientation may emphasize the legitimacy afforded through technology adoption. We therefore assert that the strategic orientation of top management must be taken into consideration when investigating organization technology adoption.Taking these two probable causes into consideration, the proposed study advances a Configurational Model for Organizational Adoption of Technology (CMOAT) that: (1) theorizes organizational technology adoption as an outcome of configurations of TOE elements, and (2) extends TOE by incorporating strategic orientation as an aspect of organizational technology adoption.To this end, we have gained consent from senior management of 20 companies for their participation in our study as pilot sites. Data collected from these companies will be employed to refine our survey instrument. We plan to validate CMOAT through a field survey of 300 firms that are considering adoption of a new technology. To our knowledge, this is the first study to theorize TOE as configurations of mutually interdependent rather than independent elements in driving organizational technology adoption. This paradigm shift will not only offer a novel theoretical perspective for appreciating organizational technology adoption, but also generate fresh managerial insights to guide future system implementation efforts.


Project number9042851
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/2014/07/22