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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

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    1. repec:eee:joinma:v:31:y:2015:i:c:p:42-62 is not listed on IDEAS
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