The formation of attitudes towards end-user computing

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Roger Walton HARRIS

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Awarding Institution
    Award date28 Jul 1997


    The rapid growth of End-User Computing (EUC) since the 1980s has dramatically altered the work methods of professional staff such as planners, educators and managers, who can now improve their performance by using personal computers (PCs). However, recognising EUC success, as well as identifying and measuring its many intangible benefits, still presents a major challenge to today's researchers and managers and requires new approaches. Although user satisfaction has been widely advocated as a surrogate for EUC success, the need for alternative measures of EUC success is recognised in the literature. An examination of consumer research, where satisfaction has a longer history than it has in Information Systems (IS) research, reveals elements of satisfaction formation processes which provide a valuable insight for IS researchers toward identifying alternative, and possibly more useful, measures of EUC success. The literature suggests that EUC success is partly a function of individual behaviour. Borrowing from social psychology, this dissertation extends the insight from consumer satisfaction research and develops a behaviour based model of EUC success. Particularly, attitudes towards EUC are posited as a significant determinant of EUC behaviour and several factors are hypothesised to influence such attitudes. Influences are postulated from: organisation culture; involvement with PCs as products; characteristics of the user's work tasks; anxiety about computers; and the user's personality. A survey of 917 computer users, grouped into academic staff, academic administrators and management accountants, was conducted to test the hypotheses expressed in a structural equation model. Partial least squares (PLS) analysis techniques were used, and the results were compared among the three groups of respondents. The analysis supports the hypothesised influences of personality on computer anxiety; of computer anxiety on negative attitudes towards computers; of product involvement on positive attitudes towards computers; and of task variety on product involvement. Additional testing supported influences which had not been hypothesised, but which could be substantiated on the basis of the literature. Across gender, women were found to be more likely to hold negative attitudes towards computers. Men showed a higher level of product involvement, which in turn inversely affected computer anxiety. However, computer anxiety was also influenced by education and task variety. Further analyses for each of the three groups of workers revealed differences in terms of the interplay of influences on their attitudes. In conclusion, the study has identified several situational and personal variables which act as antecedents to an individual's attitudes towards EUC. Through their influence on users' attitudes, such variables seem to ultimately affect computer-user behaviour to a significant extent. Success with EUC requires an understanding of the interplay between these influences when a worker considers using his/her computer. In EUC, which largely represents a voluntary option for technology adoption, management should pay more attention to the effect of personal and situational variables than has usually been the case in non-voluntary situations of computer use.

      Research areas

    • End-user computing