Diffusing Best Practices: A Design Science Study Using the Theory of Planed Behavior

Jan Pries-Heje, Richard Baskerville

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Both the practice and the research literature on information systems attach great value to the identification and dissemination of information on “best practices”. In the philosophy of science, this type of knowledge is regarded as technological knowledge because it becomes manifest in the successful techniques in one context. While the value for other contexts is unproven, knowledge of best practices circulates under an assumption that the practices will usefully self-diffuse through innovation and adoption in other contexts. We study diffusion of best practices using a design science approach. The study context is a design case in which an organization desires to diffuse its best practices across different groups. The design goal is embodied in organizational mechanisms to achieve this diffusion. The study used Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a kernel theory. The artifacts resulting from the design were two-day training workshops conceptually anchored to TBP. The design theory was evaluated through execution of eight diffusion workshops involving three different groups in the same company. The findings indicate that the match between the practice and the context materialized in the presence of two concordant factors. On the context side, the qualities of the selected opinion leader were necessary to provide the subjective norm described in TPB. On the best practice side, the technological qualities of the best practice itself were necessary to instill the ideal attitude (belief that the behavior will be effective). These two factors were especially critical if the source context of the best practice is qualitatively different from the target context into which the organization is seeking to diffuse the best practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreating Value for All Through IT : IFIP AICT ‐ Advances in Information and Communication technology
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
SeriesIFIP AICT - Advances in Information and Communication technology


  • Best Practices
  • Technological Knowledge
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Organizational Mechanisms
  • Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)


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