Events, emotions, and technology: Examining acceptance of workplace technology changes

Kathryn R. Stam, Jeffrey M. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to understand the relationship between emotional salience and workplace events related to technology change by using a combination of key features of two popular psychological theories - regulatory focus theory and affective events theory - to view the change process in diverse settings. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is based on analysis of 18 months of qualitative interview data (n = 52 respondents) collected before, during and after the introduction of three different new technologies in three organizations - a hospital, a manufacturing facility, and a psychological counseling center. The mixed methods approach combined descriptive case studies and a structured coding approach derived from a synthesis of the two theories with which the transition processes at each organization were examined. Findings: Employees with a so-called promotion-focused orientation were more likely to accept an IT change and the events related to it. Organizational cultures and the staging of events play a role in individuals' affective reactions and behavior. The use of the framework is promising for illuminating the role of emotions, the timing of change events, and subsequent behavior in response to organizational change. Research limitations/implications: The variety of types of organizations and job types represented, as well as the types of IT change proposed in each, provides a rich sample of diverse motivations and scenarios. Further development of the relationships between the timing of organizational events and regulatory focus is needed. Practical implications: The proposed framework suggests a shift in emphasis away from beliefs and towards emotionally relevant events. The findings suggest consideration of two distinct motivational aspects of both new and old technology. A peak in emotional events related to training indicates that an organization must actively manage how the plans, strategies, and communications with regard to training affect workers' beliefs and expectations. Originality/value: The paper highlights how an emphasis on emotionally relevant events and attention to the regulatory focus involved in interpretation of those events could provide the basis for new approaches to organizational interventions. Interventions should focus on facilitating situations where individuals can frame relevant transition events with a promotion focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-53
Number of pages31
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Change management
  • Communication technologies
  • Employees
  • Motivation (psychology)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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