Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica W. Tracey


This study is based on a qualitative multiple case study research design using a mixed methods approach to provide insight into the effect of interactive technology on informal learning and performance in a social business setting inhabited by knowledge workers. The central phenomenon examined is the variance in behavioral intention towards interactive Web 2.0 technologies in learning and performance-related activities, depending on social and cultural setting, observable in individual and group usage patterns.

The theoretical foundation for this study is drawn primarily from the activity theory model developed by Engeström (1987) and related research enabled by an ongoing review of the literature. Two new research frameworks have been developed and presented in the analysis and discussion chapters, respectively, of this study: 1.) A three-stage framework for data analysis in qualitative research; and 2.) A matrix of mutually exclusive categorical themes affecting behavioral intention, aligned with primary and secondary mediators of activity identified in the activity theory model. Current research covering activity theory and workplace learning, and implications for social learning related to performance has been synthesized with the findings from this study, and included in the discussion chapter.

The results of this study demonstrate that there are six identifiable mediators of activity tied to informal learning and performance in an organizational setting. The mediators identified are: tools, rules, division of labor, collaboration, cultural/social setting, and personal perception of role. These mediators were derived from the activity theory model and subsequently addressed by the research questions using an in-depth interview protocol. Existing research models for behavioral intention in technology acceptance were also applied, producing a validated survey instrument that yielded a set of mutually exclusive categorical themes for analysis of categories associated with each research question during the analysis phase of the study. The categorical themes shown to have an affect on behavioral intention are: performance expectancy, effort expectancy, explicit social influence, facilitating conditions, and implicit social influence. The net result is a framework for analyzing human performance that aligns each of the categorical themes shown to affect behavioral intention within each of the mediators for activity, based on an activity systems view of informal learning and performance. Further research is needed to validate these constructs by studying activity systems within other organizational and institutional settings.