Business, College of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Business (Management), Under the Supervision of Professor Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2010
Copyright 2010 Brenda Eschenbrenner


The ability to utilize information systems (IS) effectively is becoming a necessity for business professionals. However, individuals differ in their abilities to use IS effectively, with some achieving exceptional performance in IS use and others being unable to do so. Therefore, developing a set of skills and attributes to achieve IS user competency, or the ability to realize the fullest potential and the greatest performance from IS use, is important. Various constructs have been identified in the literature to describe IS users with regard to their intentions to use IS and their frequency of IS usage, but studies to describe the relevant characteristics associated with highly competent IS users, or those who have achieved IS user competency, are lacking. This research develops a model of IS user competency by using the Repertory Grid Technique to identify a broad set of characteristics of highly competent IS users. A qualitative analysis was carried out to identify categories and sub-categories of these characteristics. Then, based on the findings, a subset of the model of IS user competency focusing on the IS-specific factors – domain knowledge of and skills in IS, willingness to try and to explore IS, and perception of IS value – was developed and validated using the survey approach. The survey findings suggest that all three factors are relevant and important to IS user competency, with willingness to try and to explore IS being the most significant factor.

This research generates a rich set of factors explaining IS user competency, such as perception of IS value. The results not only highlight characteristics that can be fostered in IS users to improve their performance with IS use, but also present research opportunities for IS training and potential hiring criteria for IS users in organizations.