System Designers' User Models: A Comparitive Study and Methodological Critique

Ron Dagwell, Ron Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


root cause of the behavioral problems often experienced when computer systems are implemented in organizations may be the inadequate conceptualizations of users that system designers hold. Designers may perceive users of systems to be individuals who need order and guidance in their lives and who are motivated by financial rewards rather than opportunities for personal growth. Thus, the designers may design tightly structured systems that lower the quality of working life and produce, as a consequence, the behavioral problems observed. Previous studies of designers in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States found evidence that appears to support this hypothesis. The current replication study with Australian system designers produces similar evidence, but the conclusions drawn from the evidence are not clearcut for two reasons. First, it is now apparent that there are methodological problems with the research approach used. Second, an extension of the prior research suggests a contingency theory perspective of designers' user models may be needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-997
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications of the ACM
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1983


  • behavioral problems
  • contingency theory
  • implementation
  • information systems
  • information systems design
  • organizational change

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