The life cycle of a technological innovation: a theoretical overview and a cross-site case study
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This dissertation studied the implementation of Outlook 98, Microsoft's desktop information management software, at Saybrook University and Bancroft Valley Bank (fictitious names). The major research question was, What does the life cycle of Outlook 98 at Saybrook University and Bancroft National Bank tell us about the pattern of implementation at these two sites, and what roles do users' "technological frames" play in each site's implementation process? Employing a qualitative methodology and a conceptual framework based on Wanda Orlikowski's works on "technological frames" (nature of technology, technology strategy and technology in use) and an "episodic" (three-stage) pattern of adaptation, the author conducted unstructured and structured interviews, directly observed meetings and training sessions, and analyzed existing documents to ascertain participants' experience with Outlook 98. The findings corroborated Orlikowski's descriptions of the frames and episodic adaptation, and uncovered three new insights related to the technological frames. First, the frames first appeared in a pre-implementation stage, or what Zaltman, Duncan and Holbek (1973) call the "Formation of Attitudes Toward the Innovation" substage of an innovation's initiation stage. The users' spontaneous and vivid figurative language-similes and metaphors-presented images of motion, rest and calm, and momentary stasis before further motion in the various stages. Second, users at both sites experienced "antecedent intolerance," the author's term for a drastic change in their nature of technology frame, from an originally negative perception of the new software and a reluctance to use it to an eventual refusal to give it up. The shift in their frames was so complete that it represented not merely a modification of the original frames but a replacement of them. And third, the findings suggest two new domains of technological frames: a User/Change Agent domain (users' and change agents' perceptions of each other) and a Learning the Technology domain, which the author feels is so important that he proposes a new ASK Model of Learning, an approach to training that would address users' attitudes in the pre-implementation stage and first stage of use, skills in the second stage, and knowledge in the third stage.
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