Technological Frames, Organizational Capabilities,

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Information Systems Research
Vol. 21, No. 2, June 2010, pp. 249–270 issn 1047-7047 eissn 1526-5536 10 2102 0249



doi 10.1287/isre.1080.0220 © 2010 INFORMS

Technological Frames, Organizational Capabilities, and IT Use: An Empirical Investigation of Electronic Procurement J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742,

Abhay Nath Mishra Ritu Agarwal


he process by which organizations incorporate technological innovations into existing routines and use them on a regular basis persists as a central concern in the literature. Although we now have a fairly robust understanding of the drivers of innovation adoption, the use of innovations is less understood. In this paper, we draw on two streams of literature, managerial and organizational sensemaking, and organizational capabilities that have hitherto been used independently, to investigate organizational use of information technology (IT)-based innovations. Building on and extending prior work, we posit that organizational capabilities serve as complements to managers’ technological frames related to an innovation. We focus on the use of an important technological innovation—business-to-business (B2B) electronic markets for procurement. We examine interactions between three technological frames—benefits frame, threat frame, and adjustment frame, and two organizational capabilities—technological opportunism and technological sophistication, and their relationship with the use of B2B electronic markets in firms. We test our research model using survey data collected from 292 firms. Results largely support the proposed conceptualization and shed new light on the key factors associated with firms’ use of B2B electronic markets. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed. Key words: electronic procurement; B2B electronic markets; technological frames; benefits frame; threat frame; adjustment frame; organizational capabilities; technological opportunism; technological sophistication; sensemaking History: V. Sambamurthy, Senior Editor; Anandhi Bharadiraj, Associate Editor. This paper was received on September 28, 2006, and was with the authors 14 months for 3 revisions. Published online in Articles in Advance June 12, 2009.


The significance of innovation adoption for firms is well documented and the process by which innovations are assimilated into organizations persists as a central concern in the information systems (IS) and strategic management literatures (Damanpour 1991, Lewis et al. 2003, Malhotra et al. 2001, Rogers 1995, Swanson 1994). This literature acknowledges that information technology (IT)-based innovations offer the potential to substantially change and improve existing firm processes and routines, thereby conferring significant advantage on firms that can exploit them. Therefore, not surprisingly, considerable scholarly research has focused on under249


standing the adoption of technological innovations in organizations (see Fichman 2000 for a detailed review of the literature). Although we now have a reasonably robust understanding of the determinants of organizational adoption of innovations, the decision to acquire a new technology is only the first step in a complex process related to firms’ sustained use of innovations. There is increasing realization among researchers that the extent and nature of post-adoption use of IS influences their organizational impacts (Barua et al. 2004, Gallivan 2001). It has been noted that although firms adopt IT-based innovations, they often fail to successfully assimilate them (Chatterjee et al. 2002,


Mishra and Agarwal: Technological Frames, Organizational Capabilities, and IT Use Information Systems Research 21(2), pp. 249–270, © 2010 INFORMS

Fichman and Kemerer 1997, Liang et al....
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