Every year MIS Quarterly, which is a premier academic journal in the information systems discipline, selects a paper from the previous year for the Best Paper of the Year Award. The award for 2012 was given to a paper co-authored by Greta Polites, a former doctoral student and current faculty member at Kent State, and Elena Karahanna, L. Edmund Rast Professor of Business at the Terry College.
The paper, “Shackled to the Status Quo: The Inhibiting Effects of Incumbent System Habit, Switching Costs, and Inertia on New System Acceptance” was selected by the Senior Editors of the journal from among the 63 published papers for 2012.
Given that adoption of a new system often implies fully or partly replacing an incumbent system, the paper suggests that a potential source of resistance to adopting a new system lies in the use of an incumbent system. It shows that habitual use of an incumbent system, rationalization due to transition costs, and psychological commitment due to perceived sunk costs all encourage development of inertia. Inertia leads to resistance of the new system despite users recognizing that the new system has significant advantages over the incumbent. In addition, inertia negatively colors users’ perceptions of the advantages and usability of the new system. The paper ends with recommendations on disrupting habits and inertia to reduce resistance.