Causal mechanisms of technological fit in a knowledge work environment
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This work provides an explanatory study focused on the workplace interaction that occurs among people, the tasks they perform and the suitability of the technologies they use to perform those tasks. The study is informed by a specific theoretical perspective - the Task-Technology Fit (TTF) model - to help understand these interactions. Additionally, the study concentrates on a particular organisational setting, a single office of a large multi-national insurance broking firm, which is represented throughout the study as a knowledge work environment. The objective of the study is to uncover causalities of technological fit. As a concept, fit describes the degree to which a technology or set of technologies align with the characteristics of a task or set of tasks and, as an academic topic, it is widely represented within Information Systems (IS) literature. However, few studies related to TTF theory have attempted to address or identify the fundamental causal conditions that give rise to fit. Using a critical realist perspective to underpin the research direction, thematic analysis was employed to identify technological fit causalities relative to the research context. Data were obtained from eight workplace participants using semi-structured interviews, which resulted in the identification of four causal themes. Of the themes identified, the findings indicated that technological fit occurs as a result of human capabilities. As a presence within a technological artefact, fit comes into existence as a creative and cognitive process, when designers, analysts or system architects fully understand, translate and render complex task requirements into a suitable technological representation. Organisational factors, such as firm structure and managerial support, and technical factors, such as the nature of the technology used to execute a task, influence the extent to which fit is represented within the technological artefact. Whilst specific to a particular organisational setting, the results of the research suggest that technological fit has a more dynamic and social aspect to it than many past studies indicate, an insight which may offer an alternative perspective on the TTF theoretical model to those involved in systems design, development and management as well as the wider academic community.