Mostafa Mesgari authors article on how people understand and react to new technology
In a European Journal of Information Systems article, the assistant professor of management information systems goes beyond social and cognitive aspects of technology sensemaking to explore the effect of technology design on how people understand it.
Mostafa Mesgari, an assistant professor of management information systems in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, reviews more than two decades of organization and technology sensemaking research and discusses its shortcomings in a recent article published in the European Journal of Information Systems, the official publication of the Operational Research (OR) Society.
In “Critical review of organisation-technology sensemaking: towards technology materiality, discovery, and action,” Mesgari and co-author Chitu Okoli, an associate professor at SKEMA Business School, synthesize current research on how people understand and react to new technology. They highlight the importance of the phenomenon by exemplifying how users’ sensemaking of new technology results in millions of dollars of failed Information Technology projects every year. Their synthesis of existing research reveals that while we know so much about how people’s cognitions and their social interaction shape their perception of new technology, there is very little known on how the design of the technology itself affects such perceptions. Their study discusses a data-driven ecological approach consistent with the tenets of critical realism that can address some of the existing shortcomings.
The article’s abstract:
“More than two decades of sensemaking research has brought thorough knowledge of how people understand organisational phenomena and attach meaning to them. This stream of research explores varied social and cognitive aspects of the process in the context of organizations and information technology (IT). However, such a large body of literature exhibits some significant shortcomings: there is a lack of IT materiality; a neglect of the discovery aspect of perception; and a lack of action orientation. So, there is limited understanding of the role that the material artefact plays in shaping users’ sensemaking of new IT, as well as how users’ actions affect their sensemaking. Moreover, while the literature mostly focuses on sensemaking as the creation of new meanings to rationalise user experiences, it neglects the discovery aspect of sensemaking that refers to perception of the meaning already available. To address these issues, this article provides a thorough review of the literature on organisation-technology sensemaking and synthesises our current understanding of the phenomenon. It then analyses the major shortcomings in our knowledge and highlights the need to address those shortcomings. It subsequently discusses an ecological approach consistent with the tenets of critical realism that can address some of the existing shortcomings.”
Mesgari joined Elon’s faculty in 2016 after earning his doctoral degree from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, Montreal. His research focuses on how users interact with information systems and how it affects individual and business performance. His work has appeared in leading peer-reviewed outlets, including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, and Information Processing & Management.