BRANCHEAU, JAMES CLAYTON; PHD
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, 1987
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, MANAGEMENT (0454)
Growing from almost nothing in 1980, end-user computing has become an important
organizational computing. One step toward providing sound guidelines for managing end-user
computing is to improve understanding of the technology diffusion process. This research had two
primary purposes. First, it assessed the validity of innovation diffusion theory within the context of
end-user computing. Second, it examined the relationship between organizational action and diffusion.
The scope of the research was limited to studying relationships among individual differences,
organizational actions, organizational context, and the adoption and utilization of information technology.
The research involved a field study and historical analysis of the diffusion of spreadsheet software in
organizations. To assist in controlling exogenous factors, only finance and accounting departments were
studied. Over 500 professionals in 24 business units from 18 large companies participated in the
research. Data was collected through interviews, surveys, and published reports. At the individual level,
substantial support was found for the viability of innovation diffusion theory in organizational contexts.
Findings supported hypotheses that earlier adopters of spreadsheet software were younger and more
highly educated (at the time of adoption), and more attuned to mass media, more involved in
interpersonal communication, and more likely to be opinion leaders (at the time of the survey). Also
supported were hypothesized differences between opinion leaders and their followers and the
S-shaped distribution of adoption over time. Application of the theory was not supported in all areas. The
findings suggest that organizations are different in important ways from the context in which the theory
originated. A number of suggestions are made concerning additional factors which should be
incorporated into the theory to improve its explanatory power. At the organizational level, regression
analyses indicated that individual-level variables were the most reliable predictors of spreadsheet
adoption and utilization. Interestingly, the proposed relationship between organizational action and
adoption/utilization was not supported. Data suggested that most information systems groups acted too
late and offered too little support to have a measurable effect on the diffusion of spreadsheet software in
finance and accounting.
Social Systems Simulation Group
P.O. Box 6904
San Diego, CA 92166-0904
Roland Werner, Principal
Phone/FAX (619) 660-1603