Towards a relational theory of IS/IT adoption and usage: Metaphor and lessons from interpersonal relationship literature

Jason Simpson


Extant literature has indicated the need to view information systems (IS) and information technologies (IT) as interaction–centric, as well as to understand individuals’ relationships with IS/IT, to fully understand and more accurately predict various IS phenomena. This paper aims to create further discussion around this topic by applying metaphor to IS adoption, rejection, and usage via an examination of the interpersonal relationship literature. Through a hermeneutic review, I interpret interpersonal relationships in terms of beginning and ending point for action (identity), mechanism (control), and strength multiplier (closeness). Parallels are then drawn to the IS literature, illustrating that individuals may interact with IS/IT as if they were human. This metaphorical approach may allow practitioners to transcend much of the anxiety associated with adoption across situations and contexts rather than attempting to further control them.


interpersonal relationships; IT adoption; technology acceptance; IT rejection; IS theory

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