Applying the Technology Acceptance Theory on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Adoption

Justice in the realm of evolving technology

Like any new technology that will bring change, people are hesitant to fully adopt it before becoming mainstream. Like the story of KODAC and APPLE (famous disruptive innovation cases), so is the adoption of ODR. Many people already use ODR unknowingly, especially in E-commerce, but they are yet not fully accustomed to ODR mechanisms.

Going through various literature and research on the topics of technology acceptance, technology acceptance models, and technology adoption, we correlate the main parameters of the Technology Acceptance Model TAM 1 with Online Dispute Resolution adoption.

Technology Acceptance Model – TAM 1 and Online Dispute Resolution adoption – The following is concluded

  1. Perceived Usefulness: ODR will enhance and increase the chance of settling the dispute.
  2. Perceived Ease of Use: ODR proceedings would likely be easier to understand with flexible proceedings.
  3. Behavior Intention: There is a will towards the use of ODR in construction disputes and even on a personal level.

For more information on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), you may go through What is ODR (Online dispute resolution) ? and What is the Difference Between Online Dispute Resolution and Virtual Courts? andWhat are the main types of Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR

What is technology?

Throughout the literature, various scholars and historians described the meaning and origin of the word “Technology”. Historians in various countries such as the United States of America (USA), France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have different points of view regarding the scope of the word itself and the history behind its current adoption. While technology can be basically defined as “Know-how”, the question arising from this is how can be there “Know-how” without knowledge?

Thus, one of the prevailing aspects in the definition of technology is the linking of technology with knowledge. McKeon (1947) correlated the description of Art in Architecture by Aristotle and technology:

Art is identical with a state of capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning

McKeon (1947) argued that Aristotle’s reference to the capacity to make, which is associated with humans, and reference to architecture in defining art correlates with technology. The association of knowledge with technology is also noted by other scholars.

Edwin T Layton demonstrated the studies of other scholars encompassing the association of technology with knowledge. This includes the studies of Guy Beaujouan and Hugh of Saint vector (Layton, 1947).

Moreover, the word technology itself can be traced to the Greek language where the combination of ‘techne’ (art, craft or skill) and ‘logos’ (word or knowledge) means ‘knowledge about skillful practices’ (Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant, & Kelly, 2003).

One of the widely accepted definitions of technology is that by Bush (1947, p.18) which states:

Basic research leads to new knowledge. It provides scientific capital. It creates the fund from which the practical applications of knowledge must be drawn. New products and new processes do not appear full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science.

Bigwood (2004) defines technology as “The use of science-based knowledge to meet a need” while Parthasarthy (2006) states that technology “refers to engineering or technical know-how used in converting scientific information into commercial goods”.

Khalil (2000) simply defines technology as the way we do things. The impact of technology on organizations and culture (Orlikowski, 1992) is immense and comes with advantages and disadvantages as discussed in the forthcoming sections

Advantages and disadvantages of technology

Technological advancements directly impact our daily lives. From mobile devices to connectivity and integration of technology into daily tasks such as navigating directions, shopping, and reading directions, accessibility of increasing demand for technology has resulted in opportunities, risks, and threats for various industries.

Some were able to keep up and embrace technological innovation and some failed, such as Nokia and Kodak.

Technological advancements in the 20th Century have had a huge undeniable impact on our lives and the global economy. The development of integrated circuits and microchips in the 1970s and 1980s reduced the calculation time for complex problems, resulting in enabling the use of computers in a wide variety of disciplines from engineering design issues to assessment of geological data for oil prospects (Arthur, 2017). Arthur (2017) further elaborates on the main technological advancement of the 1990s and 2000s being the link of computers via networks on the Internet.

Having discussed the advantages, the main disadvantages of Technology are that it drastically affects traditional services. An example is the travel agencies and travel industry.

As communication and Internet technology provides increasingly easy access to online reviews and cost comparisons, it renders obsolete some of the traditional services provided by those agencies. Other services and businesses affected are the traditional retail services such as shopping malls and electronic outlets by online retailers such as Amazon and eBay whose market shares are engulfing the traditional retail outlets (Badawy, 2009).

Notwithstanding the advantages of technology, the literature suggests that the expected benefits of technology may be overstated. Society norms, values and cultures are susceptible to the side effects of new technologies (Ojiako, 2017).

Technology management and adoption

Technology management

The National Research Council (NRC) (1987) defines technology management (TM)  as a process that consists of series of activities cumulating to the shaping and organization of strategy and ultimately achieving the objectives set.

The process includes planning, directing, control, and coordination of improving and application of technological capabilities. The NRC (1987) further expands on the definition by establishing key processes in TM regarding the industrial practice as:

  1. Recognition and assessment of various technological options;
  2. Supervision of research and development, inclusive of a feasibility assessment;
  3. Inclusion of technology into everyday operations;
  4. Application of novel technologies in relevant products and processes; and
  5. Continuous assessment and substitution as required.

Still, the scope of TM within the definition provided by NRC is limited in nature as the framework only entails the existing portfolio of technologies witinh any given organization (Chanaron & Jolly, 1999).

To mitigate the static nature of TM and to explicitly establish the various relationships mushrooming due to integration of TM (Hobday, 2005), Centidamar et al. (2009) argued that there is a need for a framework that integrates the dynamic nature of TM with ongoing analysis of the TM process in the context of understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by a new product created through the application of TM.

Concerning observations made by Gregory (1995) and Rush et al. (2007), Centidamar et al. (2009) identified common themes surrounding TM and, subsequently, proposed a revised framework for TM as follows:

  1. Identification of technologies that are important to the business. This includes market changes and collection and analysis if relevant information and is not only limited to technological developments only.
  2. Selection of technologies that are supported by the business to assess and appraise the capacity of vital strategic issues effectively.
  3. Acquisition of selected technologies. Businesses can acquire technologies either as an outright purchase or collaborate with related parties or develop them internally.
  4. Exploitation of technologies for the generation of profits or other related benefits. Exploitation refers to the commercialization of technology as part of the broader managerial objective to reap the benefits by application of technology, absorption, and use of the technology within the business.
  5. Protection of information and know-how integrated into the provided goods and manufacturing systems. Patents, contractual agreements, trademarks, etc. are some of the mechanisms by which intellectual property can be protected from unauthorized use.
  6. Learning from the ongoing development and exploitation of technologies. This activity acts as feedback pertaining to the technological competency as it consists of reviewing the outcome of technology-related projects and processes carried internally/externally.

The revamped TM framework has several benefits in broadening the scope of TM including providing linkages between TM and other managerial functions; engaging management to further invest in the continuous observation of the TM outcomes; and providing for a core set of activities that can be modified by an organization to be made applicable at any level and any size (Centidamar et al., 2009).

Technology adoption

Since the early 1980s, technology and related academic discipline has been subject to detailed scrutiny from management professionals and academia (Drejer, 1997).

In the corresponding years, multiple definitions were formulated (National Research Council, 1987; Centidamar et al., 2009), theories were proposed (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Igbaria et al., 1994), and models were developed (Davis, 1986; Venkatesh & Davis, 1996; Venkatesh & Davis, 2000; Venkatesh et al., 2003; Venkatesh & Bala, 2008) to understand the determinants that influence the adoption of technology.

With the evolution of the Technology Management (TM) framework, its application increased, leading to various forms of outcomes depending on the industry.

For example, Dey et al. (1996) suggested a project control framework for construction projects by analysing risk, considering contingency required, and project planning. In the domain of space technology, an intuitive scenario-based framework was suggested to posit and analyze the mitigation, management, and survivability of comet/asteroid impact on Earth (Garshnek et al., 2000).

Likewise, an assessment framework was developed by Pretorius and de Wet (2000) for the adoption of new technology leading to the incorporation of suggestions to assess the depth of the relationship between technology and the manufacturing process.

Technology has been wholeheartedly adopted in many industries for the benefit of the companies and the sector as a whole. To further integrate the advances in technology, the TM framework acts as a foundation for the implementation, identification, and overall development of technology.

Technology and resolving disputes

In addition, the link between innovators adopters (early and late) can always be illustrated by the famous Innovation-adoption curve.

Online Dispute Resolution in the Variables of TAM 1

Correlating technology acceptance with ODR and by going through the literature, One can conclude that the general public is likely to accept and utilize new technology in the dispute process even though they are not fully aware of ODR mechanisms.

Whilst the fear of utilizing new technology is always persistent, many are willing to accept ODR in situations relevant to their fields. The trend is that they would accept ODR; however, they believe that fear of utilizing new technology would likely make parties less inclined towards adopting it.

Correlating the basic variable of the TAM model – Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use and Behavior intention – we conclude the following:

  1. Perceived Usefulness: ODR will enhance and increase the chance of settling the dispute.
  2. Perceived Ease of Use: The majority stated that ODR proceedings would likely be easier to understand with flexible proceedings.
  3. Behavior Intention: There is a will towards the use of ODR in construction disputes and even on a personal level.


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