An alternative to methodological individualism: A non-reductionist approach to studying technology adoption by groups

Saonee Sarker, Joseph S. Valacich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Studies on groups within the MIS discipline have largely been based on the paradigm of methodological individualism. Commentaries on methodological individualism within the reference disciplines suggest that studies embracing this paradigm can lead to potentially misleading or incorrect conclusions. This study illustrates the appropriateness of the alternate non-reductionist approach to investigating group- related phenomenon, specifically in the context of technology adoption. Drawing on theories of group influence, prior research on conflict, technology characteristics, task-technology fit, group communication media, and recent theoretical work surrounding group technology adoption, the paper proposes and empirically tests a new non-reductionist model for conceptualizing technology adoption by groups. Further, the study also empirically compares this nonreductionist model with a (hypothetical) methodological individualist model of technology adoption by groups. Results strongly support most of the assertions of the non-reductionist model and highlight that this model provides a more robust explanation of technology adoption by groups than a methodological individualist view. Further, the study also highlights some conditions wherein the methodological individualist view fails to provide correct explanations. The implications of the study's findings for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-808
Number of pages30
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Group technology adoption
  • Methodological individualism
  • Multilevel theory
  • Non-reductionist view
  • PLS analysis
  • Task-technology fit
  • Technology characteristics
  • Valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management


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