Venkatesh, V., Thong, J.Y.L., and Xu, X. “Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology: A Synthesis and the Road Ahead,” Journal of the AIS (17:5), 2016, 328-376.
The unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) is a decade old and has been used extensively in information systems (IS) and other fields as evidenced by the large number of citations to the original article introducing the theory. The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesize the IS literature on UTAUT, perform a theoretical analysis of UTAUT and its extensions, and chart an agenda for research going forward. Based on Weber’s (2012) framework of theory evaluation, we examined UTAUT and its extensions along two sets of quality dimensions—namely, the parts of the theory and the theory as a whole. While our review identifies many merits to UTAUT, we also found that its achievements have hampered further theoretical development in research into technology acceptance and use. To chart an agenda for research that will enable significant future work, we analyze the theoretical contributions of UTAUT using Whetten’s (2009) notion of cross-context theorizing. Our analysis reveals a number of limitations that lead us to propose a multi-level framework that can serve as the theoretical foundation for future research. Specifically, this framework integrates the notion of research context and cross-context theorizing with the theory evaluation framework to (1) synthesize the existing UTAUT extensions across both the dimensions and the levels of the research context; and (2) highlight promising research directions. We conclude with recommendations for future UTAUT-related research using the proposed framework.