Adaptive structuration theory

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Adaptive structuration theory



Alternate name(s)


Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Decision outcomes (efficiency, quality, consensus, commitment), New social structures (rules, resources)

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Structure of advanced information technology (structural features, spirit), other sources of structure (task, organizational environment), group's internal system.

Concise description of theory

Adaptive Structuration Theory is based on Anthony Giddens' structuration theory. This theory is formulated as “the production and reproduction of the social systems through members’ use of rules and resources in interaction”. DeSanctis and Poole adapted Giddens' theory to study the interaction of groups and organizations with information technology, and called it Adaptive Structuration Theory. AST criticizes the technocentric view of technology use and emphasizes the social aspects. Groups and organizations using information technology for their work dynamically create perceptions about the role and utility of the technology, and how it can be applied to their activities. These perceptions can vary widely across groups. These perceptions influence the way how technology is used and hence mediate its impact on group outcomes.


Diagram/schematic of theory


Source: DeSanctis, Geradine & Poole, Scott, M. (1994). Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science, 5(2), pp. 121

Originating author(s)

Anthony Giddens

In IS: Gerardine DeSanctis & Marshall Scott Poole

Seminal articles

A. Giddens. The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1984.

A. Giddens. Central Problems in Social Theory. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1979.

DeSanctis, G., & Poole, M. S. (1994). Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science, 5(2), 121-147

Poole, M. S., & DeSanctis, G. (1990). Understanding the use of group decision support systems: The theory of adaptive structuration. In J. Fulk & C. Steinfeld (Eds). Organizations and Communication Technology. Newbury Park, Ca: Sage.

Originating area

Sociology, , information systems, organizational theory

Level of analysis


IS articles that use the theory

Avolio, B. J., Kahai, S., & Dodge, G. E. (2000). E-leadership: Implications for theory, research, and practice. Leadership Quarterly, 11(4), 615.

Barrett, M., & Scott, S. (2004). Electronic trading and the process of globalization in traditional futures exchanges: A temporal perspective. European Journal of Information Systems, 13(1), 65.

Barrett, Michael, & Walsham, Geoff. (1999). Electronic trading and work transformation in the london insurance market. Information Systems Research, 10(1), 1.

Barry, B., & Crant, J. M. (2000). Dyadic communication relationships in organizations: An attribution/expectancy approach. Organization Science, 11(6), 648.

Boiney, L. G. (1998). Reaping the benefits of information technology in organizations: A framework guiding appropriation of group support systems. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 34(3), 327.

Burke, K., & Chidambaram, L. (1999). An assessment of change in behavioral dynamics among computer-supported groups: Different factors change at different rates. Industrial Management + Data Systems, 99(7), 288.

Carlson, P. J., & Davis, G. B. (1998). An investigation of media selection among directors and managers: From "self" to "other" orientation. MIS Quarterly, 22(3), 335.

Chidambaram, & Laku. (1996). Relational development in computer-supported groups. MIS Quarterly, 20(2), 143.

Chidambaran, L. (1993). Evolution of group performance over time: A repeated measures study of GDSS effects. Journal of Organizational Computing & Electronic Commerce, 3(4), 443.

Chin, W, W., Gopal, Abhijit, & Salisbury, David, W. (1997). Advancing the theory of adaptive structuration: The development of a scale to measure faithfulness of appropriation. Information Systems Research, 8(4), 342.

Chudoba, K. M. (1999). Appropriations and patterns in the use of group support systems. Database for Advances in Information Systems, 30(3/4), 131.

Contractor, N. S., & Seibold, D. R. (1993). Theoretical frameworks for the study of structuring processes in group decision support systems: Adaptive structuration theory and self-organizing systems theory. Human Communication Research, 19(4), 528-563.

Crowston, K., Sawyer, S., & Wigand, R. (2001). Investigating the interplay between structure and information and communications technology in the real estate industry. Information Technology & People, 14(2), 163.

Dennis, A. R., Wixom, B. H., & Vandenberg, R. J. (2001). Understanding fit and appropriation effects in group support systems via meta-analysis. MIS Quarterly, 25(2), 167.

DeSanctis, G., & Poole, M. S. (1994). Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science, 5(2), 121-147.

DeSanctis, G., Poole, M. S., Dickson, G. W., & Jackson, B. M. (1993). Interpretive analysis of team use of group technologies. Journal of Organizational Computing & Electronic Commerce, 3(1), 1.

DeSanctis, Gerardine, & Gallupe, Brent, R. (1987). A foundation for the study of group decision support systems. Management Science, 33(5), 589.

Descanctis, G., Poole, M. S., Lewis, H., & Desharnais, G. (1991). Using computing in quality team meetings: Initial observations from the IRS--minnesota project. Journal of Management Information Systems, 8(3), 7.

Edwards, T. (2000). Innovation and organizational change: Developments towards an interactive process perspective. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 12(4), 445.

Fjermestad, J., & Hiltz, S. R. (1998). An assessment of group support systems experiment research: Methodology and results. Journal of Management Information Systems, 15(3), 7.

Fulk, Janet. (1993). Social construction of communication technology. Academy of Management Journal, 36(5), 921.

Gopal, A., Bostrom, R. P., & Chin, W. W. (1992). Applying adaptive structuring theory to investigate the process of group support systems use. Journal of Management Information Systems, 9(3), 45.

Griffith, T. L. (1999). Technology features as triggers for sensemaking. Academy of Management.the Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 472.

Griffith, T. L., Sawyer, J. E., & Neale, M. A. (2003). Virtualness and knowledge in teams: Managing the love triangle of organizations, individuals, and information technology1. MIS Quarterly, 27(2), 265.

Halavais, A. (2005). Social informatics: Beyond emergence. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 31(5), 13.

Heracleous, L., & Barrett, M. (2001). Organizational change as discourse: Communicative actions and deep structures in the context of information technology implementation. Academy of Management Journal, 44(4), 755.

Hinds, P. J., & Bailey, D. E. (2003). Out of sight, out of sync: Understanding conflict in distributed teams. Organization Science, 14(6), 615.

Hoxmeier, J. A., Nie, W., & Purvis, G. T. (2000). The impact of gender and experience on user confidence in electronic mail. Journal of End User Computing, 12(4), 11.

Jong-Young Kim. (2000). Social interaction in computer-mediated communication. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 26(3), 15.

Karahanna, E., Straub, D. W., & Chervany, N. L. (1999). Information technology adoption across time: A cross-sectional comparison of pre-adoption and post-adoption beliefs. MIS Quarterly, 23(2), 183.

Lam, S. S. K. (1997). The effects of group decision support systems and task structures on group communication and decision quality. Journal of Management Information Systems, 13(4), 193.

Lee, B., Barua, A., & Whinston, A. B. (1997). Discovery and representation of casual relationships in MIS research: A methodological framework. MIS Quarterly, 21(1), 109.

LeRouge, C., & Webb, H. W. (2004). Appropriating enterprise resource planning systems in colleges of business: Extending adaptive structuration theory for testability. Journal of Information Systems Education, 15(3), 315.

Lewis, I., & Suchan, J. (2003). Structuration theory: Its potential impact on logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 33(4), 296.

Lewis, K, L., & Seibold, R, D. (1993). Innovation modification during intraorganizational adoption. Academy of Management.the Academy of Management Review, 18(2), 322.

Liker, J. K., Haddad, C. J., & Karlin, J. (1999). Perspectives on technology and work organization. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 575.

Majchrzak, A., Rice, R. E., Malhotra, A., King, N., & Ba, S. (2000). Technology adaptation: The case of a computer-supported inter-organizational virtual team. MIS Quarterly, 24(4), 569.

Manzevski, M. L., & Chudoba, K. M. (2000). Bridging space over time: Global virtual team dynamics and effectiveness. Organization Science, 11(5), 473.

Maule, William, R. (1994). A state telecommunications architecture for technology transfer. Information Resources Management Journal, 7(1), 34.

Maznevski, M. L., & Chudoba, K. M. (2000). Bridging space over time: Global virtual team dynamics and effectiveness. Organization Science: A Journal of the Institute of Management Sciences, 11(5), 473.

Miranda, S. M., & Bostrom, R. P. (1999). Meeting facilitation: Process versus content interventions. Journal of Management Information Systems, 15(4), 89.

Miranda, M, S., & Bostrom, P, R. (1993). The impact of group support systems on group conflict and conflict management. Journal of Management Information Systems, 10(3), 63.

Montealegre, Ramiro. (1997). The interplay of information technology and the social milieu. Information Technology & People, 10(2), 106.

Morton, A., Ackermann, F., & Belton, V. (2003). Technology-driven and model-driven approaches to group decision support: Focus, research philosophy, and key concepts. European Journal of Information Systems, 12(2), 110.

Mutch, A. (2002). Actors and networks or agents and structures: Towards a realist view of information systems. Organization, 9(3), 477.

Nagasundaram, Murli, & Bostrom, P, R. (1994). The structuring of creative processes using GSS: A framework for research. Journal of Management Information Systems, 11(3), 87.

Nambisan, S. (2003). Information systems as a reference discipline for new product development. MIS Quarterly, 27(1), 1.

Niederman, Fred, Beise, M, C., & Beranek, M, P. (1996). Issues and concerns about computer-supported meetings: The facilitator's perspective. MIS Quarterly, 20(1), 1.

Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: A practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404.

Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science: A Journal of the Institute of Management Sciences, 3(3), 398-427.

Orlikowski, W. J., & Iacono, C. S. (2001). Research commentary: Desperately seeking "IT" in IT research - A call to theorizing the IT artifact. Information Systems Research, 12(2), 121.

Poole, M. S., & DeSanctis, G. (1990). Understanding the use of group decision support systems: The theory of adaptive structuration. In J. Fulk & C. Steinfeld (Eds). Organizations and Communication Technology. Newbury Park, Ca: Sage.

Qureshi, S., & Vogel, D. (2001). Adaptiveness in virtual teams: Organisational challenges and research directions. Group Decision and Negotiation, 10(1), 27.

Reinig, B. A., & Shin, B. (2002). The dynamic effects of group support systems on group meetings. Journal of Management Information Systems, 19(2), 303.

Robey, Daniel, & Boudreau, Marie-Claude. (1999). Accounting for the contradictory organizational consequences of information technology: Theoretical directions and methodological implications. Information Systems Research, 10(2), 167.

Ryu, J. F. S. (1995). Cognitive elements in the social construction of communication technology. Management Communication Quarterly : McQ (1986-1998), 8(3), 259.

Salisbury, D., Chin, W. W., Gopal, A., & Newsted, P. R. (2002). Research report: Better theory through measurement--developing a scale to capture consensus on appropriation. Information Systems Research, 13(1), 91.

Sambamurthy, V., & Chin, W. W. (1994). The effects of group attitudes toward alternative GDSS designs on the decision-making performance of computer-supported groups. Decision Sciences, 25(2), 215-241.

Sawyer, S. (2004). Managing the human side of information technology: Challenges and solutions, edited by edward szewczak and coral snodgrass. hershey, PA: Idea group publishing, 2002. xiii + 351 pp. $59.95. ISBN 1-931777-74-8. Information Society, 20(2), 151-152.

Sawyer, Steve, Farber, Joel, & Spillers, Robert. (1997). Supporting the social processes of software development. Information Technology & People, 10(1), 46.

Schwieger, D., Melcher, A., Ranganathan, C., & Wen, H. J. (2004). Appropriating electronic billing systems: Adaptive structuration theory analysis. Human Systems Management, 23(4), 235-243.

Smith, C. A. P., & Hayne, S. C. (1997). Decision making under time pressure. Management Communication Quarterly : McQ, 11(1), 97.

Speier, C., & Venkatesh, V. (2002). The hidden minefields in the adoption of sales force automation technologies. Journal of Marketing, 66(3), 98.

Stewart, D. W., & Pavlou, P. A. (2002). From consumer response to active consumer: Measuring the effectiveness of interactive media. Academy of Marketing Science.Journal, 30(4), 376.

Tan, F. B., & Hunter, M. G. (2002). The repertory grid technique: A method for the study of cognition in information systems. MIS Quarterly, 26(1), 39.

Vaast, E. (2004). O brother, where are thou? Management Communication Quarterly : McQ, 18(1), 5.

Vician, C., & DeSanctis, G. (2000). The impact of role training in a user-driven group support system environment. Group Decision and Negotiation, 9(4), 275.

Walsham, G. (2002). Cross-cultural software production and use: A structurational analysis. MIS Quarterly, 26(4), 359.

Watson, T, R., Ho, Hua, T., & Raman, S, K. (1994). Culture. Association for Computing Machinery.Communications of the ACM, 37(10), 44.

Wheeler, C, B., & Valacich, S, J. (1996). Facilitation, GSS, and training as sources of process restrictiveness and guidance for structured group decision making: An empirical assessment. Information Systems Research, 7(4), 429.

Yoo, Y., & Alavi, M. (2001). Media and group cohesion: Relative influences on social presence, task participation, and group consensus. MIS Quarterly, 25(3), 371.

Zigurs, I., & Buckland, B. K. (1998). A theory of task/technology fit and group support systems effectiveness. MIS Quarterly, 22(3), 313.

Links from this theory to other theories

Structuration theory, Socio-technical theory (sociotechnical systems theory, structural symbolic interaction theory, Barley's application of structural theory, Orlikowski's structural model)

External links, summary of AST., Wikipedia entry on AST., paper on AST.

Original Contributor(s)

Hossam Ali-Hassan

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