Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 95–108 | Cite as

The formation of technology mental models: the case of voluntary use of technology in organizational setting



The use of information systems in organisations presents one of the early signs of success. Hundreds of studies have generated a wealth of knowledge on systems use across a broad range of technologies and theoretical approaches. However, new types of technologies and organisations continue to pose challenges to systems use. The case of open systems that are offered to users on a voluntary basis presents one of those challenges for two reasons: 1) the systems are open in the sense that they could be configured in many ways depending on users finding use cases and possible applications; 2) the system use is voluntary and hence there is no organisational push. They bring users’ choice and active finding of use cases to the centre of their success. This study questions why and how users choose to engage (or not to engage) with open technology on a voluntary basis and how and why its use options and potential unfold? It examines a longitudinal case study (1994–2012) on the voluntary use of telemedicine. The findings reveal that users’ perception of open technology in a voluntary setting is formed through a continuous interplay between users’ technology mental models, professional identity, institutional traditions and arrangements and work practices. If perceived to be in contradiction with professional identity, institutional traditions and arrangements or work practices, users’ technology mental models are fixated on the misfit and the misfit is thereby reinforced. Hence, users do not try to find use cases or think of possible applications. However, institutional entrepreneurs could break this self-fulfilling prophecy by influencing both the technology mental models of users and the institutional arrangements.


IS-success IS-use Open technology Mental models Institutional setting Voluntary use Telemedicine 



An earlier version of this study was presented at IFIP WG 8.6 2013, please see (Elbanna and Linderoth 2013) for full details.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementRoyal Holloway University of LondonSurreyUK
  2. 2.School of EngineeringUniversity of JönköpingJönköpingSweden

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