Rethinking adoption : information and communications technology interaction processes within the Swedish automobile industry

Abstract: On different levels and with different strategic importance, business managers face technology decisions every day. These decisions concern not only which technologies to use, but also which ones not to use. Technology is a strategic issue in business in the sense that decisions to reject or adopt a specific type of technology, at either firm or industry level, can in the long run have an impact on the ability to develop and fulfill market needs. The purpose of this thesis is to empirically explore information and communications technology (ICT) adoption in an industrial context in order to challenge prevalent conceptualizations of adoption. The thesis proposes that ICT adoption in an industrial context needs to be understood and evaluated through a processual and longitudinal approach. The thesis specifically concerns organizational level adoption (cf. individual/user level adoption) of ICT applications for processual support (cf. manufacturing technology or product technology) in an industrial marketing context (cf. consumer marketing context). Through an empirical exploration of five cases of ICT adoption processes found in the Swedish Automobile industry, this thesis presents a view on adoption as interaction that is different from prevalent conceptualizations within the field.The empirical material was collected through in-depth interviews with key actors in the five adoption processes and observations made over time in the adoption processes under study. The study has a focus on capturing rich descriptions concerning five entities constituting a conceptualization of adoption: object of adoption, subject of adoption, process of adoption, outcome of adoption and context of adoption. The thesis contributes with an alternative view on adoption in the industrial setting with a focus on adoption as a process of interaction. Through an exploration of my empirical materials, I challenge prevalent conceptualizations of adoption. I conclude that given the embedded and organic nature of the adoption process, it is necessary to approach adoption as a process of interaction. For the presented conceptualization and given the industrial context, this thesis asserts that the object of adoption technology is to be viewed as an open solution (cf. given product), that the subject of adoption is to be viewed as something ongoing between and within an actor (cf. adoption as a single-firm issue), that the process of adoption is to be viewed as an ongoing process of interaction (cf. linear), that the context of adoption is to be viewed as embedded interaction and context as part of the process (cf. context as ‘out there’), and that the outcome is to be discussed in terms of status (cf. binary).