Abstract - The Information Society 30(5)


Who am I Online? Examining Voluntary Use as Symbolic-Collective Action

Rennie Naidoo

This paper reports on a test of an integrated voluntary information technology use model that draws on social identity theory to extend the functional utility model of the user. User feedback on a healthcare insurance firm’s electronic service in South Africa was analyzed qualitatively using pattern matching to test the model’s propositions. While functional utility was found to be a significant determinant of voluntary information technology use, both functional utility and symbolic needs were significant for some user segments. Information technology research can benefit from further cross-fertilization with social identity theory to explain use patterns in different voluntary contexts. Providers seeking to move beyond functional utility should consider the symbolic needs of strategically important user segments to strengthen long-term relationships.


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