The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Information and Communication Technology Adoption at Work: Employees' Experiences of Adoption and Learning

Eija Korpelainen

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the School of Science for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU1 at the Aalto University School of Science (Espoo, Finland) on the 26th of November 2011 at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-4386-9)   [783 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-4385-2)


The aim of this thesis is to investigate employees' experiences of a successful adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) systems at work. Since organizations actively implement new ICT systems and previous literature has identified end users as the most common source of ICT implementation problems and failures, the topic of this study is relevant and timely. The literature reviews carried out for this thesis suggest that in the ICT adoption research there is a lack of studies which apply theoretical approaches that view ICT adoption as a dynamic and social process and which have a qualitative and interpretive research approach. The three empirical sub-studies in this thesis make a contribution to the existing knowledge of ICT adoption by studying qualitatively and comprehensively employees' experiences when they adopt ICT systems, for example, how the employees learn how to use ICT systems and what problems they encounter during the adoption and learning process. This thesis considers an ICT adopter as a solitary and autonomous actor but also as a social actor who is tightly engaged in his or her social environment and context.

The data were gathered from qualitative semi-structured interviews among 50 employees in three case organizations. The three case organizations represented different contexts: public and private and education, military, and industrial. The data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. The main findings show that employees prefer informal ways of learning how to use ICT, e.g., they ask for help from peers; the social context was the main source of use-related problems in ICT adoption, and self-determination in ICT adoption was experienced as a successful yet unsystematic way of adopting ICT. The main finding was that eight enablers for the successful adoption of an ICT system by employees were distinguished.

The theoretical implication is that this thesis shows how three alternative theoretical research approaches, the activity system model, the model of institutionalization as a structuration process, and a learning approach, can be applied in order to analyze and understand the adoption of ICT by individuals. The practical implication is that the thesis provides useful information for support staff, managers, and designers on the adoption of ICT by individuals, such as how the adoption of ICT systems proceeds, how employees learn how to use ICT systems, and what problems they encounter.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 4 publications:

  1. Eija Korpelainen. 2011. Theories of ICT system implementation and adoption – A critical review. Working Paper. Espoo, Finland: Aalto University, School of Science, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. 56 pages. Aalto University publication series SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY 9/2011. Aalto-ST-9/2011. ISBN 978-952-60-4150-6. ISSN 1799-490X. © 2011 by author.
  2. Eija Korpelainen and Mari Kira. 2010. Employees' choices in learning how to use information and communication technology systems at work: strategies and approaches. International Journal of Training and Development, volume 14, number 1, pages 32-53. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2419.2009.00339.x. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing. By permission.
  3. Eija Korpelainen and Mari Kira. Systems approach for analysing problems in IT system adoption at work. Behaviour & Information Technology. 16 pages. DOI:10.1080/0144929X.2011.624638.
  4. Eija Korpelainen, Matti Vartiainen, and Mari Kira. 2010. Self-determined adoption of an ICT system in a work organization. Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, volume 22, number 4, pages 51-69. DOI:10.4018/joeuc.2010100103. © 2010 IGI Global. By permission.

Keywords: adoption, activity system model, implementation, information technology, information and communication technology, institutionalization, learning, structuration theory, technology acceptance model

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© 2011 Aalto University

Last update 2012-02-08