Management Information Systems Quarterly


This paper defines user adaptation as the cognitive and behavioral efforts performed by users to cope with significant IT events that occur in their work environment. Drawing on Coping Theory, we posit that users choose different adaptation strategies based on a combination of primary appraisal (i.e. a user’s assessment of the expected consequences of an IT event) and secondary appraisal (i.e. a user’s assessment of his/her control over the situation). On that basis, we identify four adaptation strategies (Benefits Maximizing, Benefits Satisficing, Disturbance Handling, and Self-Preservation) which are hypothesized to result in three different individual-level outcomes: restoring emotional stability, minimizing the perceived threats of the technology, and improving user effectiveness and efficiency. A study of the adaptation behaviors of six account managers in two large North American banks provides preliminary support for our model. By explaining adaptation patterns based on users’ initial appraisal and subsequent responses to an IT event, our model offers predictive power while retaining an agency view of user adaptation. Also, by focusing on user cognitive and behavioral adaptation responses related to the technology, the work system, and the self, our model accounts for a wide range of user behaviors such as technology appropriation, avoidance, and resistance.