Technology Acceptance– Understanding Decisions to Use IT

This except is from my book Efficacious Technology Management: A Guide for School Leaders

Technology acceptance model was first elucidated to understand the observation “that performance gains are often obstructed by users’ unwillingness to accept and use available systems” (Davis, 1989 p. 319), and it has been used to study decisions to use (or avoid) technology in many settings. Variations of technology acceptance model have been used to develop and refine both IT systems (hardware and software) and organizational practices that rely on IT systems. It is used to predict and explain both how individuals interact with IT as well as patterns of IT use within groups, and it is used to change perceptions of technology and patterns of technology use.

In 2003, Venkatesh, Morris, Davis and Davis modified the TAM into the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT); in this work, the scholars combined eight different theories that predict the decision to use technology into one. According to UTAUT, four factors are positively associated with the use of technology: performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influences, and facilitating conditions (see figure 2).

  • Performance expectancy is a measure of the extent to which an individual believes technology will affect his or her job performance; it is rooted in efficiency, relative advantage, and outcome expectations. Interventions that lead to increased efficiency or improved outcomes will be more used.
  • Effort expectancy is a measure of the individual’s perceptions of how easy it is to use the technology; users intend to use that technology they perceive to be easy-to-use.
  • Social influences are related to the individual’s perceptions of how others perceive the technology and its use; technology used by others whose opinion matters will be more used.
  • Facilitating conditions include organizational structures that support technology including responsive and effective technical support, adequate replacement plans, access to necessary training, and other supports. More and more highly functioning systems that maintain and provide technology in organizations are associated with increased use of it.

illustration of the unified theory of use and acceptance of technology

Figure 2. Factors directly associated with technology use (adapted from Venkatesh, Morris, Davis and Davis 2003)

It is notable that these factors are associated with ones’ intention to use a technology are based on each individual’s perceptions. In a school, different populations and even different individuals within a population may perceive the same technology differently, and those differences will affect individuals’ intentions to use the technology. Efficacious IT managers will use UTAUT as a theory to explain observed uses of technology and predict interventions that will change those patterns. Changes can be made to affect those factors, and failures to observe the expected changes can be evaluated for either effectiveness or perceptions of the changes.


Davis, F. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly 13(3): 319-340.

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27(3), 425–478.