Information Avoidance in Corporate Information System Use

Executive Summary

Information systems are ubiquitous in today’s business environment and have become critical success factors for businesses. The users of information systems have access to a larger pool of information than ever before. However, the underlying assumption in much research and practitioner work is that available information will eventually be used. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the consid- eration that although information is available and relevant, the users may decide to not using parts of it or to ignoring it altogether. Since only information that is being used can contribute to the firm’s suc- cess, this phenomenon of information avoidance remains a serious threat to IS development, usage, and the overall business goals. The assumption here is not that the neglect of information is malicious in any case. The amount of information available in today’s work environment makes the neglect of most available information a necessity. What is considered malicious however, and is at the center of the information avoidance phenomenon, is the pathologic divergence of a user’s subjective infor- mation need and the subsequent information use. This is only the case when what is deemed to be necessary and desired information by the user does, for some reason, ultimately not get used.

This research project aims at understanding and explaining such information avoidance behaviour in the context of computer-supported work environments. Existing cognitive explanations suggest the ex- istence of two separate causal mechanisms that lead to information avoidance. However, these sepa- rate und scattered prior research works have not been synthesized and combined into a holistic ex- planation. A preliminary explanatory model has been derived from the literature. During the process of the research project this model will be equipped with a measurement model, and be tested in an ex- perimental laboratory setting (Hubert and Kenning, 2008). Because some of the cognitive processes (Lehrer, Constantiou und Hess, 2011) are unconscious and latent, a multi-method approach will em- ploy traditional methods, such as interviews and observations, but also neurophysiological methods (Riedl, Hubert, and Kenning, 2010). The tested model will be advanced towards a mid-range theory of information avoidance behaviour in the context of business information systems. It is the aim of this project to publish the scientific findings in international journals and to present at international conferences.




The research project aims at understanding and explaining information avoidance behaviour in the context of computer-supported work environments.

Current State of Research:

Project Phases:

  1. Extension of Structural Model by a Measurement Model
  2. Validation and Refinement of Structural Model
  3. Set-up of Experimental Design
  4. Development of Test Environment
  5. Data Collection
  6. Theory Development and Documentation