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Abstract

Conceptual modeling grammars are a fundamental means for specifying information systems requirements. However, the actual usage of these grammars is only poorly understood. In particular, little is known about how properties of these grammars inform usage beliefs such as usefulness and ease of use. In this paper, we use an ontological theory to describe conceptual modeling grammars in terms of their ontological deficiencies, and formulate two propositions in regard to how these ontological deficiencies influence primary usage beliefs. Using BPMN as an example modeling grammar, we surveyed 528 modeling practitioners to test the theorized relationships. Our results show that users of conceptual modeling grammars perceive ontological deficiencies to exist, and that these deficiency perceptions are negatively associated with usefulness and ease of use of these grammars. With our research, we provide empirical evidence in support of the predictions of the ontological theory of modeling grammar expressiveness, and we identify previously unexplored links between conceptual modeling grammars and grammar usage beliefs. This work implies for practice a much closer coupling of the act of (re-)designing modeling grammars with usage-related success metrics.

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