Date of Award

12-15-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Robey - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Marie Claude-Boudreau

Third Advisor

Dr. Michale Gallivan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Upkar Varshney

Abstract

With the increasing pervasiveness of mobile technologies such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants and hand held computers, mobile technologies promise the next major technological and cultural shift. Like the Internet, it is predicted that the greatest impact will not come from hardware devices or software programs, but from emerging social practices, which were not possible before. To capitalize on the benefits of mobile technologies, organizations have begun to implement nomadic computing environments. Nomadic computing environments make available the systems support needed to provide computing and communication capabilities and services to the mobile work force as they move from place to place in a manner that is transparent, integrated, convenient and adaptive. Already, anecdotes suggest that within organizations there are social implications occurring with both unintended and intended consequences being perpetuated. The problems of nomadic computing users have widely been described in terms of the challenges presented by the interplay of time, space and context, yet a theory has yet to be developed which analyzes this interplay in a single effort. A temporal human agency perspective proposes that stakeholders’ actions are influenced by their ability to recall the past, respond to the present and imagine the future. By extending the temporal human agency perspective through the recognition of the combined influence of space and context on human action, I investigated how the individual practices of eleven nomadic computing users changed after implementation. Under the umbrella of the interpretive paradigm, and using a cross case methodology this research develops a theoretical account of how several stakeholders engaged with different nomadic computing environments and explores the context of their effectiveness. Applying a literal and theoretical replication strategy to multiple longitudinal and retrospective cases, six months were spent in the field interviewing and observing participants. Data analysis included three types of coding: descriptive, interpretive and pattern coding. The findings reveal that patterns of technology use in nomadic computing environments are influenced by stakeholders’ temporal orientations; their ability to remember the past, imagine the future and respond to the present. As stakeholders all have different temporal orientations and experiences, they exhibit different practices even when engaging initially with the same organizational and technical environments. Opposing forces emerge as users attempt to be effective by resolving the benefits and disadvantages of the environment as they undergo different temporal, contextual and spatial experiences. Insights about the ability to predict future use suggest that because they are difficult to envisage in advance, social processes inhibit the predictability of what technologies users will adopt. The framework presented highlights the need to focus on understanding the diversity in nomadic computing use practices by examining how they are influenced by individual circumstances as well as shared meanings across individuals.

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