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Understanding the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology

We’ve covered several change models in recent episodes, and now we’re going to discuss a model that was designed to unite them all: the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology.

How can enablers of change effectively harness the power of technology to enhance their work? This question has been a subject of great interest and research over the years. Venkatesh et al. (2003) introduced the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model to try and answer this question. The model has since provided valuable insights into understanding the factors influencing technology acceptance and usage. In this episode, we’ll explore the UTAUT model and its relevance for enablers of change, with practical examples to illustrate its application.

Let’s begin with a brief overview. The UTAUT model is a comprehensive framework that integrates and extends various theories to explain the acceptance and use of technology. It integrated elements from eight previous models of technology acceptance, namely: 

  1. the Theory of Reasoned Action, 
  2. the Technology Acceptance Model, 
  3. the Motivational Model, 
  4. the Theory of Planned Behaviour, 
  5. a combined model of Technology Acceptance Model and Theory of Planned Behaviour, 
  6. the Model of Personal Computer utilisation, 
  7. the Diffusion of Innovations theory, and finally, 
  8. the Social Cognitive Theory.

You can see on the figure below that the model has four core determinants of intention and usage (across the left), and four moderators of key relationships (along the bottom). Let’s firstly explore the four key determinants that influence behavioural intentions of users to adopt and utilise technology.

Interaction of the elements of the UTAUT model. Source: Venkatesh et al. (2003, p. 447).

 

1) Performance expectancy relates to the user’s belief that using technology will enhance their job performance and productivity. It’s moderated by gender and age, such that the effect will be stronger for men and particularly for younger men. 

2) Effort expectancy is defined as the degree of ease associated with the use of the system. It’s moderated by gender, age, and experience, such that the effect will be stronger for women, particularly younger women, and particularly at early stages of experience. 

3) Social influence examines the impact of external factors on an individual’s decision to adopt technology. It includes factors such as peer pressure, social norms, and support from colleagues or superiors.  It’s moderated by gender, age, voluntariness, and experience such that the effect will be stronger for women, particularly older women, particularly in mandatory settings in the early stages of experience. 

4) Facilitating conditions relate to the availability of resources, support, and infrastructure necessary for technology adoption and usage. In the context of enablers of change, facilitating conditions may include access to reliable internet, training programs, and technical support.

Now let’s explore how we can apply it to enhance technology adoption and usage in our work. Here are a few examples:

1) Performance expectancy: To enhance performance expectancy, we could introduce technology-driven solutions that directly address the challenges they face. For instance, implementing mobile apps or web-based platforms for real-time monitoring and tracking of crop diseases can empower users to respond promptly, resulting in improved outcomes.

2) Effort expectancy: Simplifying technology interfaces and providing user-friendly training materials can significantly reduce the perceived effort required for technology adoption. By ensuring that tools and applications are intuitive and easy to navigate, we could encourage wider acceptance and usage. For instance, providing step-by-step video tutorials on using agricultural software can help overcome initial barriers and boost confidence.

3) Social influence: Encouraging knowledge-sharing platforms and creating communities of practice among users can foster social influence. These platforms can facilitate discussions, share success stories, and exchange best practices related to technology adoption. Peer support and positive reinforcement play a crucial role in influencing individuals’ decisions. For example, organising workshops or conferences, such as AgEvoke here in Australia, where users can showcase their technological innovations can inspire others to follow suit.

4) Facilitating conditions: Improving facilitating conditions involves ensuring that the necessary resources and support systems are in place. This can include establishing partnerships with technology providers, government agencies, and funding organisations to secure the required infrastructure, funding, and technical assistance. Additionally, offering ongoing training and professional development opportunities can empower users to adapt and adopt emerging technologies effectively.

Those were a few examples of how we might use the model. However, to achieve successful technology adoption, enablers of change should consider the following key points.

  • Embrace a user-centric approach: The UTAUT model emphasises the importance of understanding users’ needs, preferences, and contexts. Enablers of change could actively involve end-users in the technology adoption process right from the initial stages. Conducting user surveys, interviews, or focus groups can provide valuable insights into their expectations, challenges, and specific requirements. By incorporating user feedback and involving them in decision-making, we can tailor technology solutions to meet their needs, increasing the likelihood of acceptance and use.
  • Use continuous evaluation and improvement. The UTAUT model recognises that technology acceptance and use are dynamic processes. It’s essential for enablers of change to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of technology solutions and gather feedback from users. This ongoing assessment can help identify areas for improvement, address user concerns, and adapt technology to evolving needs. By actively engaging in continuous evaluation and improvement cycles, we can ensure that technology remains relevant and beneficial.
  • Think about collaboration and partnerships play a vital role in technology adoption and implementation. Enablers of change should actively seek collaboration with technology experts, researchers, and stakeholders. Collaborative efforts can result in innovative technological solutions, access to expertise, and shared resources. By leveraging the strengths of different stakeholders, we can create a supportive ecosystem that fosters technology adoption and use.
  • Address the digital divide: The UTAUT model emphasises the significance of facilitating conditions, including access to resources and infrastructure. In agricultural contexts, it’s crucial to address the digital divide, ensuring that technology is accessible to all users, regardless of their geographical location or socioeconomic status. Efforts should be made to provide reliable internet connectivity, affordable devices, and technical support to overcome barriers related to infrastructure. Bridging the digital divide will enable wider participation and equitable access to technology-driven agricultural practices.

In conclusion, the UTAUT model provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the factors influencing technology adoption and usage. For us as enablers of change, the UTAUT model offers valuable insights into enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of our work. By considering the four key determinants of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, and facilitating conditions, we can create a conducive environment for technology adoption. By applying user-centric approaches, continuously evaluating and improving technology solutions, fostering collaboration, and addressing the digital divide, we can harness the power of technology to drive positive change and achieve sustainable agricultural practices.

Remember though, technology is not a standalone solution but a tool to support and enhance existing extension practices. By combining our expertise with technological advancements, we can unlock new opportunities, overcome challenges, and deliver effective activities to farmers and rural communities. So, the UTAUT model is helpful for integrating technology into our future! 

Well, you’ve read our thoughts, now we’d like to hear yours! Add a comment below and tell us about your experiences with the UTAUT model, including any tips and further ideas about it. We don’t want this to be just a one-way conversationjoin in by sharing your thoughts and ideas with us! 

Thanks folks for reading this Enablers of change episode. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know when new episodes are available. And if you liked what you heard, please tell your friends so they too can join the conversation!

 

Resources

Venkatesh, V., Morris, M. G., Davis, G. B., & Davis, F. D. (2003). User acceptance of information technology: Toward a unified view. MIS quarterly, 425-478.

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Andrew Huffer
1 year ago

Some really valuable insights and pointers here thanks Denise and John. Could be really handy for conference presenters in encouraging their audience to take action to test or implement a ‘new’ technology.

David Eveland
9 months ago

I am curious to know how many researchers are looking into the use of ChatGPT (and other generative AIEd platforms) through the UTAUT model.

Jonathon Kelso
Jonathon Kelso
9 months ago
Reply to  David Eveland

Hi David, I stumbled on this page as I’m drawing up a postgraduate project researching the potential of UTAUT in implementing AI change

Markus
Markus
4 months ago

I am curious whether it is relevant to use the UTAUT model for a thesis seeking to understand the challenges and demands for commercial managers when implementing new digital tools. For data collection the idea is to interview around 6 commercial managers and their experience with integrating new digital tools, and specifically what demand they have.

Markus
Markus
4 months ago
Reply to  John James

Thanks for your reply, John. To be sure, is it possible to construct my own set of questions for each core determinants? So that I have a group of questions asked for each of them that is relevant for my research? I am just a bit unsure whether the model only fits a data set with much data based on reliable and verified constructs/scales used before. Also, when doing semi-structured interviews/qualitative data, is it then possible for me to analyse the answers with the UTAUT model without doing actual calculations?

Last edited 4 months ago by Markus
Lars Runov
Lars Runov
3 months ago

Thanks for a good and valuable walk-through of the UTAUT model 🙂

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