The Pendulum of Centralization and Decentralization

flickr.com/photos/thunderpants/2858507080/ (cc 2.0)

flickr.com/photos/thunderpants/2858507080/ (cc 2.0)

Research Question: What factors influence individual use of a centralized application platform?

Abstract: After two decades of actively distributing computing power to individual users in the form of desktop and notebook PCs, IT executives are now being drawn back to the benefits of centralized computing platforms, as evidenced by the emergence of thin client technology and the application service provider (ASP) business model. But will individual users embrace this “re-centralization?” This study examines major influencing factors on end-user use of centralized application platforms using the theory of planned behavior (TPB). Two new perceived behavioral control factors are identified: (1) relative functional advantage of the local PC versus the central server, and (2) response promptness of the central server. Data were collected using a paper-and-pencil survey of twenty-six users who had access to a centralized application platform. The two new measures demonstrated satisfactory reliability and validity, and both were strong predictors of intention to use the centralized platform and actual usage. Results also suggest that TPB has strong predictive power for individual use of centralized application platforms.

Model:

Findings: All paths in the model were significant, supporting all research hypotheses. Relative functional advantage of the local PC had the highest impact on behavioral intention, followed by attitude, response promptness of the central server, and subjective norms. The two PBC variables (i.e., RFA and RP) were significantly associated with system use, as was behavioral intention with system use. Intention R2=.70; Usage R2=.38.

Implications: (1) Reducing the perceived advantage of local PC use, and/or promoting centralized use, may be effective approaches for promoting centralized computing platforms. (2) It is important to “guarantee” high network bandwidth from locations where employees are most likely to work – related costs should be carefully considered. (3) Use adoption was more strongly influenced by situational factors (i.e., perceived relative advantage of the local PC, and response prompt of the remote server), than attitudes, norms and intention.

Citation: Fang, Y. & Neufeld, D.J. (2006). The pendulum swings back – Individual acceptance of re-centralized application platforms, The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems 37(2&3), pp. 33-41. [link]