The Effects of Task Characteristics on the Continuous Usage of Mobile Applications

The Effects of Task Characteristics on the Continuous Usage of Mobile Applications

Chen-Ya Wang (Department of Management and Information, National Open University, New Taipei, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJOM.2018100105
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While many studies have focused on mobile apps acceptance and the moderating effects of individual factors, little is known about the effects of different users' objectives, i.e. task characteristics in this article, on users' behavioral model. The main purpose of this article was to explore the effects of utilitarian/hedonic task characteristics on continuous usage of mobile apps. This study employed multi-group analysis to explore the effects of utilitarian/hedonic tasks. The results validated the different effects of utilitarian/hedonic tasks. A strategy that focuses not just on reinforcing and enhancing the determinants of users' continuous usage intention but also on complementary aspects that cater to users' motivations, is essential. The representative universal policy that treats everyone as being the same have to be replaced by a group alignment strategy.
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In the information systems (IS) research field, the acceptance of new information technology (IT), applications and services has been widely explored in previous studies. At the beginning, studies usually defined their research context in the workplace as problem-solving situations or performance-enhancing situations, which were mainly designed in regard to users’ utilitarian purposes. Subsequent studies examined users’ acceptance of new IT applications in the hedonic context. In recent years, some studies found that the causal relationships among factors may differ according to users’ purposes (i.e., for utilitarian or hedonic purpose). Previous IS studies usually defined their users’ purposes as one specific type at one time because no IT application could provide an environment to simultaneously explore different types of users’ objective. With the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, mobile technologies have been growing pervasively in various applications in our daily life. Smartphone users usually try to find a variety of mobile apps to fulfill their information and entertainment needs. A user may use different app for a utilitarian or hedonic purpose and this characteristic provides the research context whereby we can simultaneously explore the factor relationships according to different types of users’ purposes. The broad definition views a task as a part of a situation in which an actor encounters either an experimental or a real-life situation. Hackman (1969) posited that human motivation should be considered when dealing with tasks. Many studies in various disciplines have shown that the differences in individual and social behavior result from the variances in task characteristics (Childers et al., 2001; Fang et al., 2005; Hackman, 1969). It is also recognized that different user objectives will have different causal relationships between related factors in explaining user behavior. This study examined the effects of different task characteristics according to the nature of tasks (i.e., users’ objectives) being executed in the mobile apps environment.

In the IS field, research on the acceptance of, or satisfaction with, IT applications has two major streams: the technology acceptance literature and user satisfaction literature; integrating these two perspectives would help to strengthen the conceptual linkage between application characteristics design and application usage prediction (Wixom and Todd, 2005). In developing a theoretical integration of user satisfaction and technology acceptance, Wixom and Todd (2005) argued that the beliefs related to applications (i.e., object-based beliefs) differ from the beliefs concerning using the applications (i.e., behavioral beliefs). They deemed that object-based beliefs (i.e., perceived quality) are the determinants of behavioral beliefs (i.e., perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use). This study adopted the core concept of Wixom and Todd’s model that behavioral beliefs are determined by object-based beliefs. Furthermore, the antecedent factors in technology acceptance literature and user satisfaction literature are mainly cognitive ones. Guinea and Markus (2009) argued that there are two kinds of inputs for users’ intention to use IT. The first is rational decisions based on the users’ beliefs, expectations, etc.; the second is the affective or emotional responses to using technology. Researchers in the IS field have noticed that affective factors impact user behavior and found that the explanatory power of user behavior can be enhanced by including affective factors (Argyris 1971). We included perceived enjoyment as a behavioral belief in exploring the influences of users’ affective responses.

On the other hand, Dishaw and Strong (1999) argued that technology acceptance-related studies show the weakness of losing their focus on tasks. Moom and Kim (2001) also claimed that the nature and specific influences of usage-context factors may alter the users’ acceptance, and therefore further exploration is needed. According to Hare’s (1962) view that task is the definition of situation, this study examined the different effects of task characteristics on user behavior regarding mobile apps.

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