The role of formal controls in facilitating information system diffusion

Mumin A. Abubakre*, M. N. Ravishankar, Crispin R. Coombs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Information system (IS) studies highlight that IS usage, a pre-requisite for IS diffusion, may be difficult to attain when usage is voluntary because users can resist using the system. User resistance may be overcome through the application of organizational controls. Control theory explains how users' actions and practices are shaped in line with organizational guidelines and procedures. This paper reports on a qualitative case study and shows how formal control mechanisms (behavior and outcome controls) can have a positive and conclusive impact on IS diffusion. The paper makes three contributions to knowledge. First, it explains how the application of outcome control mechanisms can lead to IS diffusion despite user resistance. Second, it suggests that IS diffusion paths are iterative rather than smooth and linear. Finally, the paper demonstrates that in some contexts, despite a lack of reward expectancy, sanction expectancy can be an effective force during the IS diffusion process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-609
Number of pages11
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • IS diffusion
  • IS implementation
  • Organizational control
  • User resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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