IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Casting the Net: A Multimodal Network Perspective on User-System Interactions


  • Gerald C. Kane

    () (Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467)

  • Maryam Alavi

    () (Goizueta Business School, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322)


Information systems (IS) researchers have typically examined the user-system relationship as an isolated dyad between a single, independent user and an individual, freestanding information system. We argue that this conceptualization does not adequately represent most organizations today, in which multiple users interact with multiple information systems within a group. Relying heavily on the theory and methods behind social network analysis, we introduce the concept of multimodal networks to assess both users and information systems as equivalent nodes in a single social network. This perspective allows us to examine the influence of information systems on organizational outcomes as a function of all of the user-system and interpersonal interactions in a group. We explore two different possible mechanisms for this influence: (1) direct user-system interactions by aggregating the strength of all the dyadic user-system interactions in a group, and (2) indirect user-system interactions by assessing the centrality of the information systems within the social network. We survey approximately 600 individuals in 40 healthcare groups to test whether either or both of these mechanisms are associated with two types of organizational performance outcomes---efficiency and quality of care. We find that the centrality of the information systems within the network is significantly and positively associated with both efficiency and quality outcomes, but that the average strength of the user-system interactions is not. Implications are that managers and researchers should examine the wider multimodal network of multiple users and multiple systems when assessing the role of IS in organizations in relation to organizational performance outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerald C. Kane & Maryam Alavi, 2008. "Casting the Net: A Multimodal Network Perspective on User-System Interactions," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 19(3), pages 253-272, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orisre:v:19:y:2008:i:3:p:253-272

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James G. March, 1991. "Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 71-87, February.
    2. Paul R. Carlile & Eric S. Rebentisch, 2003. "Into the Black Box: The Knowledge Transformation Cycle," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(9), pages 1180-1195, September.
    3. Andrew Burton-Jones & Detmar W. Straub, 2006. "Reconceptualizing System Usage: An Approach and Empirical Test," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 17(3), pages 228-246, September.
    4. Gordon Walker & Bruce Kogut & Weijian Shan, 1997. "Social Capital, Structural Holes and the Formation of an Industry Network," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 8(2), pages 109-125, April.
    5. Morten T. Hansen, 2002. "Knowledge Networks: Explaining Effective Knowledge Sharing in Multiunit Companies," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(3), pages 232-248, June.
    6. William H. DeLone & Ephraim R. McLean, 1992. "Information Systems Success: The Quest for the Dependent Variable," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 3(1), pages 60-95, March.
    7. Gerald C. Kane & Maryam Alavi, 2007. "Information Technology and Organizational Learning: An Investigation of Exploration and Exploitation Processes," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(5), pages 796-812, October.
    8. Stephen P. Borgatti & Rob Cross, 2003. "A Relational View of Information Seeking and Learning in Social Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 432-445, April.
    9. Sung S. Kim & Naresh K. Malhotra, 2005. "A Longitudinal Model of Continued IS Use: An Integrative View of Four Mechanisms Underlying Postadoption Phenomena," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(5), pages 741-755, May.
    10. Sarv Devaraj & Rajiv Kohli, 2003. "Performance Impacts of Information Technology: Is Actual Usage the Missing Link?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(3), pages 273-289, March.
    11. D. Harrison McKnight & Vivek Choudhury & Charles Kacmar, 2002. "Developing and Validating Trust Measures for e-Commerce: An Integrative Typology," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 13(3), pages 334-359, September.
    12. Sung S. Kim & Naresh K. Malhotra & Sridhar Narasimhan, 2005. "Research Note—Two Competing Perspectives on Automatic Use: A Theoretical and Empirical Comparison," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 16(4), pages 418-432, December.
    13. Jeanne M. Pickering & John Leslie King, 1995. "Hardwiring Weak Ties: Interorganizational Computer-Mediated Communication, Occupational Communities, and Organizational Change," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 6(4), pages 479-486, August.
    14. Manju K. Ahuja & Kathleen M. Carley, 1999. "Network Structure in Virtual Organizations," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(6), pages 741-757, December.
    15. David Constant & Lee Sproull & Sara Kiesler, 1996. "The Kindness of Strangers: The Usefulness of Electronic Weak Ties for Technical Advice," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(2), pages 119-135, April.
    16. Wanda J. Orlikowski, 1992. "The Duality of Technology: Rethinking the Concept of Technology in Organizations," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 3(3), pages 398-427, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Niam Yaraghi & Anna Ye Du & Raj Sharman & Ram D. Gopal & Ram Ramesh, 2015. "Health Information Exchange as a Multisided Platform: Adoption, Usage, and Practice Involvement in Service Co-Production," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, March.
    2. Kick, Markus, 2015. "Social Media Research: A Narrative Review," EconStor Preprints 182506, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    3. Gerald C. Kane & Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca, 2011. "IS Avoidance in Health-Care Groups: A Multilevel Investigation," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 22(3), pages 504-522, September.
    4. repec:eee:joinma:v:31:y:2015:i:c:p:42-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ramnath K. Chellappa & Nilesh Saraf, 2010. "Alliances, Rivalry, and Firm Performance in Enterprise Systems Software Markets: A Social Network Approach," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 21(4), pages 849-871, December.
    6. repec:eee:ijoais:v:14:y:2013:i:2:p:127-137 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Devi R. Gnyawali & Weiguo Fan & James Penner, 2010. "Competitive Actions and Dynamics in the Digital Age: An Empirical Investigation of Social Networking Firms," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 21(3), pages 594-613, September.
    8. Yi-Da Chen & Susan A. Brown & Paul Jen-Hwa Hu & Chwan-Chuen King & Hsinchun Chen, 2011. "Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases with Information Systems: Reconceptualizing Outbreak Management Through the Lens of Loose Coupling," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 22(3), pages 447-468, September.
    9. Arun Sundararajan & Foster Provost & Gal Oestreicher-Singer & Sinan Aral, 2013. "Research Commentary ---Information in Digital, Economic, and Social Networks," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 24(4), pages 883-905, December.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:orisre:v:19:y:2008:i:3:p:253-272. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.