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Abstract

The technology acceptance model (Davis 1989) is one of the most widely used models of IT adoption. According to TAM, IT adoption is influenced by two perceptions: usefulness and ease-of-use. Research has shown that perceived usefulness (PU) affects intended adoption of IT, but has mostly failed to do so regarding perceived ease of use (PEOU). The basic proposition of this study is that this varying importance of PEOU may be related to the nature of the task. PEOU relates to assessments of the intrinsic characteristics of IT, such as the ease of use, ease of learning, flexibility, and clarity of its interface. PU, on the other hand, is a response to user assessment of its extrinsic, i.e., task-oriented, outcomes: how IT helps users achieve task-related objectives, such as task efficiency and effectiveness. Accordingly, the study theorizes that PEOU directly affects IT adoption only when the primary task for which the IT is deployed is directly associated with intrinsic IT characteristics, such as when the task itself is an integral part of an IT interface. Extending this proposition to e-commerce, it was hypothesized that when a Web site is used to purchase products, PEOU would not affect IT adoption because IT ease-of-use is not an inherent quality of the purchased product. On the other hand, when the Web site is used to inquire about products, PEOU should affect IT adoption because the required information is embedded in the IT and thus its quality is directly related to IT ease-of-use. Data collected from 217 subjects in a free simulation experiment support these hypotheses. Implications for future Web development and theoretical refinements are discussed.

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