Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 28 Number 3 2011 pp. 201-234

The Influence of Individual, Contextual, and Social Factors on Perceived Behavioral Control of Information Technology: A Field Theory Approach

Elie-Dit-Cosaque, Christophe, Pallud, Jessie, and Kalika, Michel

ABSTRACT: Organizations are increasingly concerned about ensuring that workers have sufficient sense of control over the information technology (IT) that they use. However, we know little about the antecedents of the end user's perceived behavioral control (PBC) with respect to IT. Drawing on Kurt Lewin's field theory, the present study responds to this concern by formulating and testing a model whereby individual, contextual, and social forces influence PBC directly and indirectly via computer anxiety. In order to test the model, a survey was conducted in France with IT end users enrolled in professional training programs. The results show that increasing autonomy, offering appropriate managerial support, reducing work overload, and perceived innovativeness with IT can together reduce computer anxiety and increase PBC. These findings emphasize the forces that managers can manipulate in order to foster users' feelings of control with respect to IT in the workplace. Following this, the paper makes three main contributions to research. First, it increases our knowledge of the nomological net surrounding PBC by shedding light on the joint influences of internal, external, and social forces on this variable. Second, it reveals the role of computer anxiety, emphasizing that it is an important conduit through which these forces influence workers' PBC. Third, the paper shows how Lewin's field theory can help to create richer and less fragmented models in order to capture more fully the determinants of IT adoption and adaptation. The practical implications regarding the actions that managers can take in order to increase workers' PBC are discussed.

Key words and phrases: autonomy, computer anxiety, control over IT, demand-control model, field theory, managerial support, perceived behavioral control, personal innovativeness with IT, work environment, work overload