A Representation Theory Perspective on the Repurposing of Personal Technologies for Work-Related Tasks

James Burleson
Varun Grover
Jason Bennett Thatcher
Heshan Sun


Individuals often blur the line between technologies used for personal means and those used to complete work-related tasks. The increasing level of capabilities offered by personal technologies presents opportunities for repurposing them to accomplish work-related tasks. With guidance from representation theory, we describe how cross-context representational fidelity predicts repurposing intentions across domains of use (e.g., personal to work-related). An empirical study of 311 full-time employees demonstrates that congruence between prior technology use and potential work use increases an individual’s belief that a technology can be useful for work purposes. Furthermore, we show that, in repurposing situations, usefulness is also influenced by an individual’s confidence in using the technology on his or her work device(s). These findings, among others, shed new light on our understanding of the influence of experience on repurposing technologies for use in the professional domain.