Deviant Affordances: When Tensions, Deadlocks and Noncompliance Generate Performance

Haag, S., Eckhardt, A., and Venkatesh, V. “Deviant Affordances: When Tensions, Deadlocks and Noncompliance Generate Performance,” MIS Quarterly, 2023, forthcoming.

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Novel information technologies (ITs), such as mobile devices or third-party cloud services, offer users an increasing variety of action possibilities, i.e., affordances. Organizational IT policies, however, often specify their actualization, i.e., turning those affordances into action, as undesired. Organizations face the challenge that their employees, to reach their goals, still frequently take advantage of those affordances by using those very ITs and thereby deviate from the IT policies. Although prior work has extensively studied how goal-oriented users actualize affordances that are associated with outcomes that support organizational goals, little attention has been paid to the structures, mechanisms, and conditions underlying affordances that deviate from organizational IT policies. We conceptualize those affordances as deviant affordances. Leveraging the orders of change framework and using a multimethod research design integrating interview and experimental studies, we identify three key mechanisms underlying deviant affordances—i.e., tension, deadlock, and actualization mechanisms—that can link together to produce a deviant outcome supporting the individual goal and an organizational goal. Our work explains the importance of users’ perceived deadlock in stimulating the generation of deviant outcomes that support the organizational goals through improving task, contextual, and innovative job performance.
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