The Collaborative Use of Information Technology: End-User Participation and Systems Success

The Collaborative Use of Information Technology: End-User Participation and Systems Success

William J. Doll (University of Toledo, USA) and Xiaodong Deng (Oakland University, USA)
Copyright: © 2001 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/irmj.2001040101
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User participation seems especially important in the development of collaborative work systems where the technology is used by a work group to coordinate its joint activities. Users rather than systems analysts are often the best source of information on how they will use information technology to collaborate. It is almost an axiom of systems development that end users should participate in a broad range of activities/decisions, and that they should be permitted to participate in these decisions as much as they want. Despite these widely held beliefs, research has not focused on the differential efficacy of user participation in collaborative versus non-collaborative applications. Building upon the work of behavioral scientists who study participative decision making, Doll and Torkzadeh (1991) present a congruence construct of participation that measures whether end users participate as much as they want in key systems analysis decisions. Using a sample of 163 collaborative and 239 non-collaborative applications, this research focuses on three research questions: (1) Is user participation more effective in collaborative applications? (2) What specific decision issues enhance user satisfaction and productivity? and (3) Can permitting end-users to participate as much as they want on some issues be ineffective or even dysfunctional? The results indicate that user participation is more effective in collaborative applications. Of the four decision issues tested, only participation in information needs analysis predicts end-user satisfaction and task productivity. Encouraging end users to participate as much as they want on a broad range of systems analysis issues such as project initiation, information flow analysis, and format design appears to be, at best, a waste of time and, perhaps, even harmful. These findings should help managers and analysts make better decisions about how to focus participatory efforts and whether end users should participate as much as they want in the design of collaborative systems.

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