User Participation in Defining System Interface Requirements: An Issue of Procedural Justice

Hunton, James E.
March 1996
Journal of Information Systems;Spring96, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p27
Academic Journal
The belief that the success of an information system (IS) is proportional to the extent of user participation in developing the system has become axiomatic in IS research. Despite this widely held conviction, prior research in participation strategy has yielded mixed results. The purpose of this research is to incorporate the theoretical framework of procedural justice into the user participation paradigm to clarify salient psychological factors influencing the relationship between participation and specific outcomes. In this experiment, 207 student subjects took part in improving payroll data entry software. Subjects were promised three increasing levels of participation crossed with two levels of participation expectations (e.g., either promised and actual participation were congruent or promised participation exceeded actual participation). A control group was used where subjects were neither promised nor provided any participation. When promised and actual participation were congruent, higher levels of participation resulted in corresponding increases in user attitudes (procedural justice, control, satisfaction, and task commitment) and performance. Conversely, when promised participation exceeded actual participation, increased participation levels led to monotonic decreases in user attitudes and performance. The results indicate that user participation can be either functional or dysfunctional. The strong attitudinal and behavioral findings of this study complement and extend procedural justice theories, and study results encourage the integration of procedural justice concepts into IS user participation research.


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