Mental models, cognitive dissonance and executive information systems' effectiveness

A. Ramaprasad, M. E. Hill, D. A. Salach

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Abstract

Abstract. Recently there has been interest in the interaction between executives' mental models and executive information systems (EIS). As stated by Rockart & De Long (1988), ‘the most significant effect of computer support for executives may be in the enhanced mental models of the systems’ users' (p. 130). It is proposed that each interaction between the EIS and the executive will induce cognitive dissonance in the executive. The effect of the dissonance on the mental models will depend upon (a) whether the executive is in an exploratory mode or confirmatory mode and (b) whether the dissonance is below, within or above the threshold range. Cognitive dissonance serves to instil an opportunity for the creation, confirmation, expansion or reconstruction of one's mental model (s). This increases the likelihood of the executive's effectiveness being enhanced by the EIS and thus would enable better decision making. On the other hand, it can also lead to the rejection of the EIS depending on the mode (exploratory or confirmatory) of the executives and the level of their conviction in their mental models. An understanding of the cognitive dissonance threshold ranges of executives under different modes of operation is important to prevent rejection of the EIS at one extreme and unquestioning acceptance at the other extreme. Continuous learning engendered by cognitive dissonance within the threshold range, whether in the exploratory mode or the confirmatory mode, is essential tor sustaining the symbiotic relationship between the executive and the EIS. Controlling the level of dissonance within certain range limits would allow opportunities for the creation, confirmation, expansion or reconstruction of mental models and thus, through enhanced mental models, enable better decision making by the executive. This better decision making results in increased effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-253
Number of pages15
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1993

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Keywords

  • cognitive dissonance
  • decision‐making
  • effectiveness
  • executive information systems
  • mental models

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