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Restoring a Sense of Control during Implementation: How User Involvement Leads to System Acceptance Author(s): Ann-Marie K.

Baronas and Meryl Reis Louis Source: MIS Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 111-124 Published by: Management Information Systems Research Center, University of Minnesota Stable URL: Accessed: 06/05/2010 01:47
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Control Implementation

Restoring a Sense of Control During Implementation: How User Involvement Leads to System Acceptance
By: Ann-Marie K. Baronas APM Inc. 810 7th Avenue New York, NY 10019 Meryl Reis Louis Boston University Center for Applied Social Science Boston, MA 02215

The need for accurate and efficient processing of corporate information has resulted in the widespread introduction of computer-based information systems (CBIS). In turn, CBIS have encouraged the collection of more information,the need for more capacity, and the development of more comprehensive CBISs. But CBIS adoption has not been synonymous with effectiveness; excellence in technical design alone has not insured system success. As a result, considerable effort has been directed toward implementing CBIS that users accept and use and for which they express satisfaction. Toward those ends, user involvement has been called upon to supplement quality of technical design in the quest for system success. However, there is significant evidence that little is known about how strategies of user involvement work - if and when they do. No theoretically grounded explanation for links with system success has been established, nor has a consistent meaning of user involvement been developed (Baroudi, et al., 1986; Ives and Olson, 1984). In this article we take one step back. Rather than assuming that user involvement per se is the key, we examine the experience of the typical user immediately before, during, and after CBIS implementation. Borrowing from social psychology and organizational science, we assemble a theoretical perspective on the user's experience. We propose that system introduction is perceived by the user as a period of transition during which the normal level of personal control is threatened. We propose that activities that restore a user's perception of personal control during system implementation will contribute to user acceptance and other aspects of system success (e.g., satisfaction with the new system, system usage). Several operational definitions of personal control are examined, including decision choice, behavioral choice, and predictability. We then consider links between the concept of personal control and activities considered within user involvement approaches of the past. In CBIS implementation guided by such approaches, the key is to provide users with opportunities to restore or enhance their sense of personal control regardless of whether such activities constitute symbolic involvement or "true" user influence (Baroudi, et al., 1986). As a first test of this perspective, we present the results of an exploratory field experiment. Treatment group members in the study were sub-

User involvement has long been considered a critical component of effective system implementation. However, the perspective has suffered from mixed results of empirical tests and the lack of a theoretical explanation for the relationship (Ives and Olson, 1984; Baroudi, et al., 1986). Our purpose is to present a theoreticallygrounded perspective to account for effects of involving users during implementation, and to provide an initial test of this perspective. We propose that: (1) system implementation represents a threat to users' perceptions of control over their work and a period of transition during which users must cope with differences between old and new work systems; (2) user involvement is effective because it restores or enhances perceived control. Results of a field experiment designed as a preliminary test of this perspective are discussed. Keywords: User involvement, implementation, system acceptance, system development ACM Categories: H.4, K.4, K.6.1, K.6.2, K.6.M

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Control Implementation

jected to an implementation process in which activities intended to increase personal control were featured.' Differences between treatment and control groups in users' experiences of the implementation process and responses to the new system two weeks and two months after implementation are reported.

subjected to a period of learning, adjustment, uncertainty, and stress. Many workers have resisted the introduction of computer technology and the implementation of different systems. In some cases, they have been unwilling to learn how to use the new system and continued to use the former system (Markus, 1979). Others have attempted to block implementation through sabotage (Dowling, 1979; Dickson, et al., 1967). By and large, end users have been competent at using the old system, unfamiliar with the new system, and risk averse. They have not sought opportunities to learn behavioral effort, have relied on "habits of mind" or schemas and scripts as guides in automatic cognitive and behavioral processing (Louis and Sutton, forthcoming). Generally, people resist participating in uncertain situations. Argyris (1971) has argued that workers may feel that the computer will usurp their own valued decisionmaking responsibilities. Ainsworth (1977) has identified lack of understanding, fear of job loss, and human nature as underlying causes of resistance. Similarly, Sanders and Birkin (1980) have argued that threat to security, reduction in social satisfaction, and reduction in self-esteem and reputation are reasons for resistance. Sales and Mirvis (1985) have suggested that workers' general willingness to accept change significantly affects their responses to computer system implementation.

Implementation,Transition, and Personal Control

The proliferation of CBIS is a fact of life in work organizations today. In addition, there has been a dispersal of that technology across organizational roles and settings. Systems are no longer the exclusive domain of information system departments or external service bureaus. Data, software, and hardware are widely distributed. For example, they are situated in marketing departments, R&D labs, and sales offices. No longer do the people who "command" the computer have systems as their primary activity or background area of competence. Informationsystem personnel who were involved with systems of the past have been supplemented with nontechnical personnel from all functional areas and all levels of the organization. These are people who need to provide system inputs and/or receive system outputs in order to do their jobs, but who may care little about the systems per se. CBIS may be introduced among nontechnical personnel familiarwith manual systems, or, as is becoming more and more frequent, among personnel currently working with an automated system. According to Lucas (1981), workers using manual methods of information management must now "... change their behavior to make the system function" (p. 2). Even when implementation involves a change from one CBIS to another, the user - especially the nontechnical user - is is 1Although system implementation typicallydefined as a process that begins withsystem design and inthis cludes systems testing and installation, studyfoIn cused on the installation phase of implementation. this particular setting,end users (both implementation managersand clericalemployees) were not involved in system design or modification. Rather,the identical and CBIS(a standardized payroll personnelmanagement information system) was installedat each state government agency after design and modification had alreadyoccurred.The effortwas coordinatedby the agency eventuallyresponsibleforits implementain tion (installation) all state governmentagencies.

User Involvement
In light of the prevalence of user resistance during CBIS implementation, researchers and practitioners have experimented with corrective techniques. A favored method has been the involvement of users in the implementation process (DeBrabander and Edstrom, 1977; Lucas 1978). Prescriptions of user involvement during implementation are not new. Many reasons have been given for following this course. As outlined in a review by Ives and Olson (1984), user involvement is predicted to increase user acceptance by: 1. Developing realistic expectations about system capabilities (Gibson, 1977); 2. Providing an arena for bargaining and conflict resolution about design issues (Keen, 1981); 3. Leading to system ownership by users (Robey and Farrow, 1982); 4. Decreasing user resistance to change


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Control Implementation

(Lucas, 1974); 5. Committing users to the system 1974; Markus, 1983).


User involvement is also predicted to improve system quality by (Ives and Olson, 1984): 1. Providing a more accurate and complete assessment of user information requirements (Norton and McFarlan, 1975; Robey and Farrow, 1982); 2. Providing expertise about the organization the system is to support (Lucas, 1974); 3. Avoiding development of unacceptable or unimportant features (Robey and Farrow, 1982); 4. Improving user understanding of the system (Lucas, 1974; Robey and Farrow, 1982). Although such views are intuitively appealing, they have received only mixed support. In particular, the links between user involvement and system quality and acceptance have no theoretical grounds or consistent empirical results. In addition, as Ives and Olson (1984) have noted, "underlying cognitive and motivational characteristics" have been ignored (p. 590). Efforts here focus specifically on motivational and cognitive factors accounting for potential effects of user involvement on implementation outcomes. The next section discusses more specifically the situation nontechnical users face during CBIS implementation. The introduction of a CBIS typically represents a period of significant change for the employees who will be end users of the system. Seldom is this major change voluntary. Thus, as a new system is being implemented, users are undergoing involuntary transition, that is, a period of time during which significant changes occur in the aspects of one's work role. Much has been written about transitions associated with changes from one formal work role to another (e.g., hirings, promotions, transfers, layoffs). However, many of the same features distinguish transitions in which there is no change in official role or title, but instead the orientation to the role is changed, as when resources, demands, or priorities change (Louis, 1980a). CBIS implementation represents such a transition. Change, contrast, and surprise have been identified as features of situations to be negotiated, or coped with, during major transitions (Louis, 1980b). Change is defined as differences in the objective features of old and new

systems (e.g., work procedures) and can be anticipated. Contrasts are the differences in system features that turn out to be personally significant, which may differ among people going through the same transition. Surprise refers to significant differences between an individual's anticipations and later experiences. People make sense of and cope with these features of transitions by drawing on relevant past experience, by seeking guidance from others close at hand, and by tapping into standard operating procedures in the immediate work environment (Louis, 1980b). We propose that user acceptance of new systems will be facilitated as changes are realistically anticipated (e.g., through input from knowledgeable sources), as contrasts are given free expression (e.g., through discussion among coworkers and between implementors and users), as surprises are minimized (e.g., through active previewing and reality testing) and assistance is provided in coping with them as they arise (e.g., through ready availability and coaching of seasoned implementors). Implementation activities that assist users in making sense of and coping with changes, contrasts, and surprises should contribute to system success.

Perceived Control
CBIS implementation is further considered to represent a transition situation in which users experience a threat of reduced control over their work. At a minimum, temporary decreases in perceived control are likely. In the perspective developed here, the links between user involvement and system success are proposed to stem from the effects of user involvement in reestablishing perceived control. A worker's desire for control is proposed to be the psychological mechanism underlying user involvement. The desire for control is triggered as the introduction of a CBIS threatens existing control. Techniques other than user involvement that enhance or restore a user's perception of control are hypothesized to contribute to system success or acceptance of the system by the user. Greenberger and Strasser (1986) have proposed and are in the process of testing relationships between individuals' actions in response to uncertain events and their perceptions of control. The concept of perceived control is borrowed from social psychology. (See Langer, 1983, for a comprehensive review.) The desire for control lies behind individuals' attempts to gain informa-

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Control Implementation

tion from the environment (Heider, 1958). People are motivated to know the causes of their own and others' behaviors (Jones and Davis, 1965; Kelley, 1971), and the exercise of control enhances self-perception and self-esteem through the association of control with mastery (White, 1959). Personal control has been defined primarily in terms of choice, predictability, responsibility, and ability to reduce or get relief from an unpleasant condition. Decreases in personal control result in negative consequences for individuals and organizations such as increased stress (Averill, 1973), withdrawal (Langer and Rodin, 1976), sabotage (Allen and Greenberger, 1980), depression (Seligman, 1975), and reduced performance (Glass and Singer, 1972). Research has consistently demonstrated that personal control over unpleasant stimulation can reduce stress and lead to greater endurance (Pervin, 1963; Corah and Boffa, 1970; Straub, et al., 1971; Geer and Maisel, 1972). Field studies have contributed to our understanding in this area. For example, hospital patients for whom the perception of control over stress had been induced required fewer pain relief drugs and sedatives and nurses reported that these patients exhibited less anxiety as well (Langer, et al., 1975). Langer and Saegert (1977) found that the unpleasantness of a highdensity condition such as shopping at a crowded supermarket, could be significantly reduced by giving shoppers information about the expected effects of crowding before their exposure to it. In addition, treatment group subjects demonstrated increased performance on a complex task and better emotional response after the shopping experience.

tasks, stress and its effects during implementation should be reduced as has been demonstrated in laboratory and field experiment settings. These techniques illustrate translation of the personal control concept in terms of the ability to reduce or escape from unpleasant situations. Sense of control can also be enhanced by increasing the predictability of the implementation process, which can be achieved by giving workers more information about the course of implementation and by addressing concerns about how implementation of computer systems can be expected to impact their work. These techniques are integrated in the implementation strategy employed in this study. Other research on decisional control demonstrates the use of choice as an operational definition of personal control (Averill, 1973; Steiner, 1979). When subjects believe they have the power to choose, they perceive control over their environments. Stotland and Blumenthal (1964) found that people who were given the opportunity to choose the order in which they would take parts of an IQ test were less anxious before the test than no-choice subjects. Interestingly, the reduction in anxiety occurred as a result of expected choice - even without immediate confirmationof actually having choice. Other studies of choice have demonstrated a variety of performance enhancing effects (Perlmuter and Monty, 1979; Glass and Singer, 1972). The effects of choice can also be applied to CBIS implementation, as strategies to increase choice represent yet another way to improve the implementation process by increasing workers' sense of control. By involving end users in decisions relating to implementation, workers may become more invested in the success of the implementation and more satisfied with the system through the social-psychological mechanism of perceived control. We propose that when employees are given opportunities to enhance their perceived control during CBIS implementationthrough choice, predictability,responsibility, and/ or ability to reduce or escape from stress - they will adapt to the change and accept the system more readily. In summary, we propose a perspective on the experience of users undergoing CBIS implementation. We propose that (1) computer implementation is likely to be experienced by nontechnical users as a period of transition during which users make sense of and cope with various differences between old and new systems and their

Implementation and Control

By extension, increasing users' perceptions of control during CBIS implementation would likely ease the stressfulness of their implementation experiences. To increase behavioral control, a variety of techniques can be employed. These include, but are not limited to, traditional meanings of user involvement. For instance, users (rather than system implementors or trainers) can be given control over the necessity and timing of breaks from tasks such as entering data or learning how to use the new system. When users believe that they are the principal judges of the pacing and characteristics of implementation


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Control Implementation

anticipations of these differences; (2) computer implementation is likely to represent a threat to users' perceptions of control over work. The remainder of the paper presents results of a preliminarystudy that assesses the implementation strategy associated with threats to perceived control.

fied with the CBIS than will control group subjects.

Field site and situation

The CBIS was a statewide personnel and payroll management information system which had been designed to standardize and automate personnel and payroll information and generate reports for regulatory agencies. The system was a terminal access, menu-driven, online data management and retrieval system, used to enter, update, and retrieve information on employees and positions. The system could not be used to perform ad hoc analysis of payroll and personnel iniformation stored in agency databases. All aspects of system development had been completed by the time of the first system introduction. The system had been developed without the participation of system users. Therefore, systems installation rather than full systems implementation served as the situation in which the perceived control perspective was tested. This CBIS represented the workers' first direct exposure to automated systems. Staff from the agency responsible for installing the computer system (also a state government agency) worked closely over a three month period with personnel and payroll staff from the agencies receiving the system. Implementation steps were highly structured and standardized across sites, and involved interaction between implementation personnel, agency staff (the users), and agency managers. The primary steps and their relative timing from date of cutover to the CBIS were as follows: (1) initial meeting introducing the system to agency managers (-12 weeks); (2) system demonstration for users (-10 weeks); (3) preparation of data conversion forms (-8 to -6 weeks); (4) three-day, off-site training for users (-4 weeks); (5) system testing and parallel processing (-4 weeks until cutover).

Research Method
An exploratory field experiment was conducted to provide an initial test of our perspective on personal control. The study focused on the implementation of a computer-based payroll and personnel manacement information system in state government agencies. Groups of payroll and personnel clerks, equivalent in age, sex, and length of employment, were assigned to either control or experimental conditions. Subjects in the control group underwent an unmodified implementation process, while experimental group subjects were exposed to a modified implementation process, designed to increase workers' sense of personal control. Questionnaires were administered to assess subjects' perceptions of the system and its implementation on three occasions: ten weeks before the planned conversion, two weeks after the conversion, and two months after the conversion.

Based on the view that CBIS implementation among nontechnical users represents a threat to personal control, we hypothesize that interventions that enhance or restore personal control will have positive effects on users during and after implementation. More specific hypotheses are: 1. Treatment group subjects will report that implementation was more successful than will control group subjects. 2. Treatment group subjects will report that implementation was less stressful than will control group subjects. 3. Treatment group subjects will consider the implementation schedule to have been more reasonable than will control group subjects. 4. Treatment group subjects will be more satisfied with their jobs after CBIS implementation than will control group subjects. 5. Treatment group subjects will be more satis-

Subjects were 92 payroll and personnel employees from 35 state government agencies in the northeast United States. Eighty-nine percent were female, 35 percent were under 30 years of age, and 34 percent were over 44 years of age. Forty-three percent had some college or technical training beyond high school, and 23 percent were college graduates; the remainder had high school level education. Forty-two per-

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Control Implementation

cent were employed by "small"agencies (employingfewer than 100 persons), 38 percent by "medium-size"agencies (100-999 employees) and 20 percent by agencies of 1000 or more employees. Thirtypercent of the subjects had workedin theirpresentjobs for less than a year, 23 percentforone to three years, and 47 percent for longerthan three years. The 43 people who were employees of the 13 agencies converting to the computer system during the first three monthsof the study were assigned to the control group. The 49 subjects in the treatmentgroup were employees of the 22 agencies experiencing implementation during the four subsequent months.

hypothesizedto increase their sense of control over theirwork. Another technique involved increasing awareness among implementation staff of the controlthreatening nature of the implementationprocess for users. In meetings with implementation staff, the experimenters discussed guidelines and techniques to be used by implementors for increasingusers' sense of choice, predictability, and responsibility. example, to increase preFor were advised to let usdictability, implementors ers know in advance when on-site visits would occur, rather than simply arrivingon-site unannounced.Similarly, increase choice and reto sponsibility,implementorswere encouraged to be clear and precise about "products" required of users, whileat the same time allowingusers to decide workdeadlines and workmethods. A change was also made to the initial meetingat whichthe system was describedto agency managers, who served as users' supervisors. Inthe controlgroup,the meetingwas conductedin lecture format;the implementation workplanwas presentedsequentiallyand the technicalaspects of implementation were emphasized. Inthe treatment group,managers were briefedin a discussion formataboutpossible user responses to the implementation process, including stress, faas tigue, and frustration, a means of increasing To predictability. increase the sense of choice and responsibility, managers selected dates for deadlinesand events within narrow time periods. In this meeting, they were also asked to recall and to discuss their experiences of previous organizationalchanges. This indirectintervention into the implementation experience of subjects was considerednecessary in orderto effect the treatmentin lightof such organizational realities as role relationships and influencepatterns. It seems unlikelythat efforts to effect workers' perceptions of control can succeed withoutinterveningdirectlywith end-users and indirectly throughtheirsupervisors. Thus, the set of changes was designed to provide a consistent treatmentsuch that inputsand interactions concerning the CBIS across the workcontextwouldenhance users' sense of personal controlby increasingpredictability, choice, and responsibility. turn,increases in personal In controlare hypothesized to result in increased user satisfaction with both the implementation experience and the CBIS.

The relativedeadlines for implementation steps and cutoverdates were the same forall agencies in both groups. Changes to the standardimplementationplan were made to increase personal controlamong treatmentgroupsubjects through manipulationof choice (Perlmuterand Monty, 1979), responsibility (Langerand Rodin, 1976), and predictability (Glass and Singer, 1972). Intervention strategies were repeated for each group. Crossmonthlycontroland experimental talkingamong personnel (subjects)fromvarious as groupswouldhave been highlyunlikely, each agency was operatingindependentof any other team agency. Allmembersof the implementation were trained in the control-enhancing implementation techniques and were involved with both controland treatmentgroupagencies (and users). An initialfeature of the treatmentconsisted of sestwo modifications the user demonstration to to sions, whichoccurred10 weeks prior cutover. The purpose of the demonstrationwas to acquaint agency staff with the computersystem. Control groupsubjects viewed a system demonstrationthat emphasized the technical capabilities of the CBIS; in contrast, treatmentgroup in subjects participated a demo session that included a presentationabout the implementation what users could exprocess itself, highlighting pect. In addition, workers discussed in small groupsthe changes they thoughtimplementation team memmight bring, while implementation bers were present to answer questions and were deaddress concerns. These interventions of signed to enhance the predictability the implementationprocess for users which, in turn,was


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Table 1. Descriptions of Variables VARIABLE Q1 & Q3 1. User Information Satisfaction 2. Job Satisfaction Q2 3. Implementation Success 4. Implementation Stress 5. Schedule Reasonableness 6. Implementation Team Evaluation 7. Managers' Attitudes Toward Implementation Q3 8. Managers' Satisfaction With System 9. Retrospective User Information Satisfaction 1 9 5.45 4.96 1.28 1.26 2 2 1 6 2 5.49 3.52 5.13 6.16 5.32 1.02 1.50 1.73 .77 1.28 9 4 5.17 5.86 1.05 .89 #ITEMS MEAN* S.D.

* A seven-point scale was used. Higher values represent positive or favorable ratings.

As stated earlier, effects of the modified implementation process were assessed through the administration of three questionnaires to subjects: 10 weeks before the cutover date, two weeks after cutover, and two months after cutover. In the first and third questionnaires, measures of job satisfaction, as developed by Cammann, Lawler and Seashore (1975) were included, as were measures of user information satisfaction adapted from the standard Bailey and Pearson instrument (1983). A pretest in a sample agency revealed that the original Bailey

and Pearson instrument was too cumbersome, time-consuming, and alienating. The number of items was considered excessive and the format unsatisfactory for this type of field setting. Therefore, a panel of judges was assembled to select a subset of items from the full Bailey and Pearson measure. A Likert scale format was used. (For more detail on instrument development, see Baronas, 1986.)2 In the second questionnaire, users' evaluations of the implementation team, the reasonableness of the implementation schedule, and managers' attitudes toward implementation [from Bailey and Pearson (1983)] were included. Other measures in the second questionnaire included users' rating of implementation success and stressfulness, which were adapted from Cammann, et al. (1975). In the third questionnaire, users' ratings of their managers' satisfaction with CBIS were also assessed. (Questionnaires were given directly to managers, however the sample size for managers was too small to permit statistically valid comparisons.) For a summary of measures,

Althougha generalized short formof the Bailey and Pearson instrument had been developed by Ives, et al. (1983), a pilot test revealed the desirabilityof the adaptingor "customizing" measures of the field setting of this study. Customizingtook the form of definitionsof items and describingscales providing that were specificallymeaningfulfor this setting and its participants.Baroudi has indicated in personal communicationsthat he supports this decision and the procedure resultingin the measure of user information satisfactionemployed in this study.

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see Table 1. Appendix 1 contains a listing of items comprisingeach variable.3

Pretest differences
Chi-square analyses conducted on responses fromthe firstquestionnaireindicatedthat there were no significantdifferences between control and treatmentgroups in terms of sex, age, educational level, agency size, or length of time in present position.Analysisof varianceconducted on preimplementation perceptionsof workdemonstrated that prior to the intervention,there were no statisticallysignificantdifferences between controland treatmentgroups in the extent satisfaction of job satisfactionor user information withthe existing payroll/personnel systems.

videdthrough these meetings indicating systhat tem implementorshad taken specific actions to provideusers witha sense of choice, predictability, and responsibility.

Table2 reportsusers' ratingsof the implementation process collected through a questionnaire administeredtwo weeks after cutover to CBIS. Althoughresults were not significantat the .05 level, treatmentgroupmembersgave higherratsuccess, lending tentaings of implementation tive supportto hypothesis one. No differences were found between treatment and control groups in their perceptions of the stressfulness of implementation. Instead,results revealed that reportedstress was high for both groups (see Tables 1 and 2) and that the treatment did not succeed in reducingstress among members of the treatmentgroup.Thus, no supportwas found for hypothesis two. Treatment group members rated the implementation schedule as significantly more reasonable than did subjects in the control group,supportinghypothesis three. This finding is especially revealing because the relativeimschedules were identical.The only plementation differences were that supervisors of treatment group subjects were given a sense of decision choice during the initial meeting's discussion of schedule, and treatment group subjects were given a descriptionof the implementation process and timeframes during the system demonstration. Users' ratingsof implementation teams were significantly higherfor the treatmentgroupas were users' ratingsof managers' attitudestowardimplementation. These results provide both a check on the treatmentand a measure of the effects of the treatment. Inthe questionnaire two administered monthsafter conversion, users in the treatmentgroup reported their managers to be significantlymore satisfied withthe computersystem than did users inthe controlgroup.Thisfurther indicatesthe success of the indirectportionof the treatment. No significantdifferences between groups were found in job satisfaction after system implementation;thus, hypothesis four was not supported.Treatment groupsubjects reportedsignisatisfactionthan ficantlyhigheruser information

checks Manipulation
Tests of the extent to which the modifiedimplementation was carried out were conducted. Targets for those tests includedthe end users team who and members of the implementation preparedusers and theirmanagers for introduction of the system. Two items in the second questionnaire were check withusers during used as a manipulation implementation. Differences between control and treatmentgroup means approachedsignificance (p<.07) withrespect to the extentto which users felt their opinions were listened to during No implementation. significantdifferenceswere foundbetween controland treatmentgroupsubto jects pertaining theirfeelings aboutthe extent to which managers encouraged participation during implementation.In hindsight,we might have done better with items that more directly assessed aspects of control such as users' sense of choice or predictability. In addition,a series of meetings was held with who describedtheiractivisystem implementors ties to one another and to the researchers. These meetings were designed to check on and was proreinforce the treatment. Information

see of information thedevelopment measures, about Baronas (1986).

For copies of the questionnaires and more extensive


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did users in the controlgroup,lendingsupportto hypothesis 5a (see Table 2). An indexof the differencebetween user information satisfaction with the old payroll/personnel systems and with the CBIS was computed by scores post- frompreimplementation subtracting of system satisfaction.Results indicatedthat users in the treatment group were significantly more satisfied with information fromthe computer system than they had been with the former payroll/personnel systems, whereas users in the controlgroup had given higher ratings to their formersystems than they didto the new system. In addition, subjects were asked in the third to questionnaire recalland provideretrospective evaluationsof theirformersystems. As Table 2 indicates,the controlgroupretrospectiveratings

more positive than were treatwere significantly ment group ratingsof the previoussystems. Results suggest that control group subjects remained attached to the old system, while treatmentgroupsubjects were alreadyswitchingtheir attachmentsto the CBIS.

In this paper, we have developed an integrated theoreticalperspective on the effects of user involvement during system implementation.We proposed that the process of implementinga new CBIS represents a situationof transitionin whichworkersexperience a threatto theirsense of controlover work,if not a directloss of control. We argued that interventionswhich restore a worker's sense of control would reduce the

Table 2. Results of Analysis of Variance CONTROL Questionnaire Two+

Ho 1:

TREATMENT 5.76 3.66 5.59 6.44 5.60

Success Implementation

5.28 3.34 4.60 5.84 4.99

Stress 2: Implementation Schedule 3: Implementation Team Implementation Evaluations Managers'Attitudes TowardImplementation Questionnaire Three+ Managers'Satisfaction 4: Job Satisfaction 5: Satisfactionwiththe CBIS 5a: User Information Satisfaction
5b: User Information

8.06*** 15.17*** 5.15*

4.48 5.80

5.19 5.91





Satisfactiont1 User Information Satisfactiont3 5c: Retrospective Satisfactionwith Old System





A negative score indicates a preferencefor CBIS. +Questionnaire two Two was administered weeks aftercutover; Three was administeredeight weeks aftercutover. Questionnaire


** p<1;

= p<.001.

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threatening quality of the implementation experience and, as a result, would heighten a user's satisfaction with the new system. Inthis view, the active ingredient in user involvement is perceived control; user involvement is effective because it restores or enhances perceived control. Results of a preliminary test of the perspective were presented. In the study, we followed the lead of work in social psychology where perceived control is affected by manipulating predictability, responsibility, and choice. In the treatment developed here we intervened during an initial demonstration of the system to users, in the instructions to members of the implementation team who would work directly with users and with their managers, and in briefings of users' managers. With users, the implementation process was explained, the normal fears and stress associated with such changes were addressed, and users were offered choices. With implementation team members, the intervention increased their awareness of the controlthreatening aspects of implementation, and identified strategies for decreasing threats to user control. Managers were helped to anticipate users' reactions and to recognize normal change processes; they were encouraged to avoid expressing overtly negative attitudes about implementation efforts. This study contrasts with past studies of user involvement which have employed survey and case methods primarily(Ives and Olson, 1984). This study was a field experiment in which data were collected from control and treatment groups at three points in time. The study, though exploratory, focused on the installation of the same CBIS across 35 organizational settings, thus providing for experimental control and generalizability. In this way, problems inherent in "one-shot" data collection were avoided; analysis of subjects' experiences and perceptions over time was made possible, as was the comparison of experiences between treatment and control groups. As hypothesized, treatment group members were significantly more satisfied with the new system than were control group members. They were also more positive in their perceptions of interactions with system implementors and perceptions of the attitudes expressed by their managers. User information satisfaction after implementation differed between groups in terms of views of the new system and retrospective views

of the old system. Initially,groups did not differ in their views of the old system; after implementation attitudes held by control group members about the old system were significantly more positive than were those of treatment group members. In addition, treatment group members preferred the new system to the old, while the reverse was true in the control group. Several interpretations of these findings are plausible. A combination of increased resistance to the new system and entrenchment or heightened preference for the old system among control group members was observed. In addition, "unfreezing" on the part of the treatment group members resulted from their experiences during installation. However, such effects may be the result of factors other than the personal control intervention. In particular, control groups received the system earlier than did treatment groups. Although checks were made to insure that no changes in system features or documentation had occurred in the interim, it is possible that changes in more subtle aspects of the system, user interfaces, and/or implementation team member orientations may have taken place. Design of future experimental studies should ensure that there is no such time segregation of control and treatment group implementation experiences. Other limitations in the design and execution of the study should be noted. Future studies should focus on the full implementation process as the experimental context, rather than the installation phase alone. In addition, limitations in the instruments used in this exploratory study did not allow us to pinpoint the precise elements of the overall intervention which led to the observed results. For instance, users in the treatment group may have responded more favorably to the CBIS because they interpreted gestures designed to increase their feelings of control as attempts to provide support and concern. To address such issues, future research could compare interventions that are oriented around perceived control versus experienced support. Another issue that requires further study is the context of control. Rather than treating control as a global construct, changes are needed that focus on areas of control considered important by the user. Identificationof areas of control specifically threatened by system implementation could help target interventions for future research.


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Beyond these theoretical and empirical issues, there are practical implications of the study and the larger perspective on which it was based. Should future work confirm the role of personal control during implementation, system developers may wish to anticipate and address issues of personal control triggered during implementation. Implementors should make efforts to restore or heighten users' perceptions of control. They may do so by facilitating experiences of predictability, responsibility, and choice for system users. In terms of predictability,for example, users could be made aware that it is normal and common for certain aspects of control to be threatened or reduced during implementation. In terms of behavioral choice, users could be encouraged to exercise control in other relevant areas not threatened. In essence, this strategy helps to differentiate among control domains by separating those in which the user's control remains or is heightened from those in which loss is likely. In addition, opportunities for various decision choices could be developed, as was demonstrated in the intervention used in this study. Choices (within predetermined ranges) for specific scheduling of deadlines, meetings, and even breaks could be left to users. Further, as system developers are able to get users to accept responsibility for particular implementation tasks, they are likely to enhance users' perceptions of control. Overall then, a comprehensive approach to reducing the control-threatening nature of system implementation makes more sense than does a piecemeal approach. System developers and implementors should make an effort to (1) give users a complete and accurate picture in advance of their likely experiences during and after implementation - make it predictable; (2) find areas in which users can make meaningful decisions throughout the process - provide choice; (3) get users to "sign up," to be accountable for results on tasks necessary to the implementation effort - engender a sense of responsibility. Together, success in facilitating users' experiences of predictability, choice, and responsibility during CBIS implementation should be associated with a heightened sense of personal control, which is naturally threatened during system implementation. In this perspective, we have seen that what matters are users' perceptions of control, rather than external or objective assessments. By extension,

developing opportunities for users to exercise or restore control is not enough. They are no guarantee of success. More important than the actual changes implementors might make are their skills at communicating them to users, and linking them into users' experiences. There is a final implication of the perspective we have proposed. Efforts to provide for extensive user involvement during systems development may have less effect on users' acceptance of and satisfaction with systems than less elaborate interventions targeted specifically at restoring users' perceptions of control.

Ainsworth, W. "The Primacy of the User (Part I)," Infosystems, April 1977, pp. 46-48. Allen, V.L. and Greenberger, D.B. "Destruction and Perceived Control," in Advances in Environmental Psychology (Vol. 2), A. Baum and J.C. Singer (eds.), Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1980, pp. 5-109. Argyris, C. "Management Information Systems: The Challenge to Rationality and Emotionality," Management Science, 17:6, 1971, pp. B275-B-292. Averill, J.K. "Personal Control Over Aversive Stimuli and Its Relationship to Stress," Psychological Bulletin, 80, 1973, pp. 286-303. Bailey, J.E. and Pearson, S.W. "Development of a Tool for Measuring and Analyzing Computer User Satisfaction," Management Science, 29:6, 1983, pp. 519-529. Baronas, A.K. "Psychological Reactance, Perceived Control and Computer System Implementation: A Social Experiment," doctoral dissertation, Boston University, 1986, University Microfilms International. Baroudi, J.J., Olson, M.H., and Ives, B. "An Empirical Study of the Impact of User Implementation on System Usage and Information Satisfaction," Communications of the ACM, 29:3, 1986, pp. 232-238. Cammann, C., Lawler, E., and Seashore, S. Michigan Organizational Assessment Package, Institute for Survey Research, Ann Arbor, MI, 1975. Corah, N.L. and Boffa J. "Perceived Control, Self-Observation, and Response to Aversive Stimulation,"Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 1970, pp. 1-14. DeBrabander, B. and Edstrom, A. "Successful Information Systems Development Projects,"

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Management Science, 24:2, 1977, pp. 191199. Dickson, G.W., Simmons, J.K., and Anderson, J.C. "Behavioral Reactions to the Introduction of a Management Information System at the U.S. Post Office: Some Empirical Observations, working paper, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 1967. Dickson, G.W. and Simmons, J.K. "The Behavioral Side of MIS," Business Horizons, 13:4, 1970, pp. 1-13. Dowling, A.F., Jr. "Hospital Staff Interference with Medical Computer System Implementation: An Exploratory Analysis," CICR No. 49, Center for Information Systems Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 1979. Geer, J.H. and Maisel, E. "Evaluating the Effects of the Prediction-Control Confound," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 23, 1972, pp. 314-319. Gibson, H.L. "Determining User Involvement," Journal of Systems Management, August 1977, pp. 20-22. Glass, D.C. and Singer, J. Urban Stress, Academic Press, New York, NY, 1972. Greenberger, D.B. and Strasser, S. "Development and Application of a Model of Personal Control in Organizations," Academy of Management Review, 11:1, 1986, pp. 164-177. Heider, F. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations, Harcourt Press, New York, NY, 1958. Ives, B., Olson, M.H., and Baroudi, J.J. "The Measurement of User Information Satisfaction," Communications of the ACM, 26:10, 1983, pp. 785-793. Ives, B. and Olson, M.H. "User Involvement and MIS Success: A Review of Research," Management Science, 30:5, 1984, pp. 586-603. Jones, E.E. and Davis, K.E. "From Acts to Dispositions: The Attribution Process in Person Perception, in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 2), L. Berkowitz (ed.), Academic Press, New York, NY, 1965. Keen, P.G.W. "InformationSystems and Organizational Change," Communications of the ACM, 24, 1981, pp. 24-33. Kelley, H.H. Attribution in Social Interaction, General Learning Press, Morristown, NJ, 1971. Langer, E.J. The Psychology of Control, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, 1983. Langer, E.J., Janis, I.L., and Wolfer, J.A. "Reductions of Stress in Surgical Patients," in Advances in Environmental Psychology, Vol. 2; Applications to Personal Control, A. Baum,

and E. Singer (eds.), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ, 1975. Langer, E.J. and Saegert, S. "Crowding and Cognitive Control," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 1977, pp. 275-282. Langer, E.J. and Rodin, J. "The Effects of Choice and Enhanced Personal Responsibility for the Aged: A Field Experiment in an Institutional Setting," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 1976, pp. 191-198. Louis, M.R. "Career Transitions: Varieties and Commonalities," Academy of Management Review, 5:3, 1980a, pp. 329-340. Louis, M.R. "Surprise and Sense Making: What Newcomers Experience in Entering Unfamiliar Organizational Settings," Administrative Science Quarterly, 25:2, 1980b, pp. 226-251. Louis, M.R. and Sutton, R.I. "Switching Cognitive Gears: From Habits of Mind to Active Thinking," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming. Lucas, H.C., Jr. "The Evolution of an Information System: From Key-Man to Every Person," Sloan Management Review, Winter, 1978. Lucas, H.C., Jr. Implementation: The Key to Successful Information Systems, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1981. Lucas, H.C., Jr. Toward Creative Systems Design," Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1974. Markus, M.L. "Power Politics and MIS Implementation," Communications of the ACM, 26:6, 1983, pp. 430-444. Markus, M.L. "Some Neglected Outcomes of Organizational Use of Computer Technology - and Their Implications for Systems Designers," Proceedings of the National Computer Conference, 1979, pp. 397-402. Norton, D. and McFarlan, F.W. The Information Systems Handbook, Dow Jones-Irwin, Homewood, IL, 1975, pp. 517-528. Perlmuter, L.C. and Monty, R.A. (eds.). Choice and Perceived Control, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New York, NY, 1979. Pervin, L.A. "The Need to Predict and Control Under Conditions of Threat," Journal of Psychology, 31, 1963, pp. 570-587. Robey, D. and Farrow, D. "User Involvement in Information System Development: A Conflict Model and Empirical Test," Management Science, 28:1, 1982, pp. 73-85. Sales, A. and Mirvis, P. "The Impact of New Technology on People in Organizations: A Review of the Current Literature," Boston University Working Paper, Center for Applied Social Science, 1985.


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Sanders, D.H. and Birkin, S.J. Computers and in a Changing Society, Management McGraw-Hill,New York, NY, 1980. Seligman, H.E.P. Helplessness, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, CA, 1975. Steiner, I.D. "Three Kinds of Reported Choice," in Choice and Perceived Control, L.C. Perlmuter and R.A. Monty (eds.), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New York, NY, 1979. Stotland, E. and Blumenthal, A. "The Reduction of Anxiety as a Result of the Expectation of Making a Choice," Canadian Journal of Psychology, 18, 1964, pp. 139-145. Straub, E., Tursky, B., and Schwartz, G.E. "Self Control and Predictability: Their Effects on Reactions to Aversive Stimulation," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18, 1971, pp. 157-162. White, R.W. "Motivation Reconsidered: The Concept of Competence," Psychological Review, 66, 1959, pp. 297-333.

was a consultant with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Office of Management Information Systems, where she conducted research on MIS implementation and computer use. She received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Boston University in 1986. Meryl Reis Louis is an Associate Professor at Boston University's School of Management and a research associate at the Center for Applied Social Science. Before returning to UCLA's Graduate School of Managtment for a doctorate, she served on the consulting staff of Arthur Andersen & Co. and worked as a counselor in a community mental health center. Professor Louis has been a member of the editorial boards of Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Review, the Organizational Behavior Teaching Review, Organizational Dynamics, and Consultation. Her research interests have centered on cognitive processes in work settings, career and other work transitions, workplace cultures, information systems in strategic human resource planning, and the sociology of social science. For the past 10 years, she has been studying "life after MBA school" with a panel of graduates from four major MBA programs.

About the Authors

Ann-Marie Baronas is an Associate with APM, Inc., a management consulting firm based in New York City. Prior to joining APM Dr. Baronas

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Listing of Individual Items Comprising Measures Used in the Study

Variable 1. User Information Satisfaction: * Accuracy - The correctness of the information contained in the system. * Currency - The age, timeliness, or "up-todateness" of the information contained in the system. * Completeness - The completeness, or comprehensiveness, of the information contained in the system. * Flexibility - The capability of the system to change or adjust in response to new conditions, demands, or circumstances. *The degree of understanding I have about the system. * The level of confidence I have about the information contained in the system. * The level of control I feel over the system. * My level of familiarity with the system. * My general level of satisfaction tem. Variable 2. Job Satisfaction: * I get a personal feeling of satisfaction doing my job. * I don't care what happens to the organization as long as I get my paycheck. * In general, I like working here. * All in all, I am satisfied with my job. Variable 3. Implementation Success: * System implementation was a success at my agency. * All in all, I am satisfied with the way implementation was handled at my agency. with the sysVariable 4. Implementation Stress: * Implementation was a stressful process. * Too many demands were placed on staff like me during implementation. Variable 5. Schedule Reasonableness: * Schedule of implementation - The timetable for converting your agency to the system. Variable 6. Implementation Team Evaluation: * Technical competence staff. * Payroll/personnel mentation staff. of the implementation of the imple-

Appendix I


* The implementation team's relationship with the staff of your agency. * Attitude of the implementation staff. * Concern staff. for users of the implementation

* Implementation process - The manner in which the computer system was introduced into your agency by the implementation staff. Variable 7. Managers' Attitudes toward Implementation: * My manager did not agree with the implementation staff about how to implement the system. * My manager was unhappy about our agency going on the system. Variable 8. Managers' Satisfaction With The System: * My manager is satisfied with the computer system.


MIS Quarterly/March 1988