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Effect Of Mobile Dependency And Relationship Orientation Information Technology Essay

Purpose – The objective of this paper is to test if Relationship orientation of a person influences his perceived usefulness of per second billing scheme by influencing his mobile dependency.

Control Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was given to the management students of XLRI and questions were asked to know about their relationship orientation, mobile dependency and perceived usefulness of per second billing scheme. The results of the survey were analysed using a four step process of mediation analysis. Moderation analysis was also done to check whether gender moderates the association between relationship orientation and per second billing.

Findings – Mobile dependency fully mediated the relationship between relationship orientation and perceived usefulness of per second billing scheme.

Research limitations/implications –The model did not take into account many factors that might externally influence the person to have perceived usefulness of per second billing plan. Also relationship orientation construct is socially desirable. So the social desirability bias will exist in the responses.

Practical implications – Telecom companies can predict the success of their schemes by knowing how mobile dependent people are or how much social networking is prevailing in the society. Also with the help of this project, they can invest in promotional activities that improve social networking amongst people which indirectly increase their sales. Also they can advertise their new schemes in websites and media which mobile dependent or relationship oriented people use frequently.

Originality/value – There have been researches conducted on mobile dependency and its effects on the society, relationships but the effect of relationship orientation and mobile dependency on the usefulness of pricing schemes is the first of its kind. This will open a new window for further researches on psychological attributes for marketing purposes.

Keywords –Relationship Orientation, mobile dependency and perceived usefulness of per second billing scheme.

Paper type -Research paper

Introduction

Pay per second mobile billing model has introduced more competition for the service providers and more options for the customers. Tata Indicom was the first service provider to launch pay per second billing plan on 6th august 2009 in maharashtra1. This model covered both prepaid and post paid service plans. This service allows consumer to pay for the seconds utilized heralding another revolution in mobile communications in India1. This plan was launched with aim of providing the customer greater value for money1.

Introduction of this plan led to increase in market share of Tata Indicom4. This forced other mobile operators to launch similar plans4. This highlights the fact that the customers had found the plan useful for them. Other major players like Bharti Airtel, Idea, Aircel, Reliance, and Vodafone have all introduced plans which allow the customers to talk on a second billing system. Many times it has been said that per second plan may not be the best option for the consumers2. But the question remains for the service providers that are their customers really getting better value through this plan3.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS

Percieved usefulness

The technology acceptance model (TAM) describes how users accept and use new technology. Perceived usefulness is one of the important factors which determine the adoption and use of new technology (Bagozzi et al 1992, Davis et al 1989). PU is defined as the degree of which an individual believes that using a system would improve his or her job performance (Davis, 1989). It means extent to which individual believes usage of a particular system will improve individual’s job performance and daily activities(Toh tsu et al, 2008) .It is argued that if an individual perceives an activity to be beneficial to achieve the valued outcomes, he or she will be more likely to accept the new technology (Chun-Hsiung Liao et al, 2007). Hence the willingness of a person to transact with a particular technology is also a form of perceived usefulness. As concluded by by Tan and Teo (2000) perceived usefulness becomes important factor in determining the adaptation of innovations. As the per second billing plan is new plan launched by the telecom operators its adoption will depend upon how useful people perceive this new plan to be. Technology adoption (or usage) decisions have been typically characterised by a strong productivity orientation (Venkatesh and Brown, 2001). Individuals see what benefits they accrue before accepting any new system (Nelson Oly Ndubisi and Muhamad Jantan).

Price has also been an important element affecting the diffusion of new products, that’s why pricing of new products and services is very difficult (Foxall, 1984). The main reason for the launch of per sec billing plan was that it would lead to cost savings for the customer4. This is due to fact that mobile customers are sensitive to the pricing of the services (Juha Munnukka, 2005). Hence the perceived usefulness construct incorporates the money consciousness of the individual as per second plan has been introduced with the rationale that it would lead to savings for the customer. Money consciousness has been defined as the frequency with which respondents worried about their finances and fantasized about money (Rubenstein, 1981). So, per sec billing plan has been introduced for the money conscious customers.

Mobile dependency

                Mobile dependency is usually the feeling of uneasiness or stresses a person experiences when he does not have the cell phone with him. In other words when a person feels that he cannot live without cell-phone, he is said to be mobile dependent which is armful. Mobile phone is being used for communication, listening to music, watching videos, browse the internet. There are types of dependencies, physical and psychological. Mobile dependency comes under both categories because mobile dependency can be viewed as a type of Technostress((Brod, 1984) that explains the psychological dependency. The causes of mobile phone dependencies can be classified into three broad factors. They are genetics, biological factors and social factors. The symptoms of mobile phone dependency are  feeling extremely uncomfortable when not having a cellphone, importance of a cell phone due to business need or external needs,the desire to talk insatiably and uncontrollably,the stress generated because of the cell phone bills, problems in office and home because of the cell phone usage,isolation and other such interpersonal problems,high degree of insecurity,health problems due to the electromagnetic waves generated in cell phones. Previous studies(Kraut et al., 1998; Moody, 2001; Niemz, Griffiths, & Banyard, 2005; Shapira, Goldsmith, Keck, Khosla, & McElroy, 2000) have suggested that excessive use of internet can result in loneliness, distress and social disinhibition. This can be applied to mobile phone dependency too. The extreme form of mobile dependency is characterised by hallucination where one hears the cell phone ringing all the time even though it is not ringing and highest degree of fear or anxiety when somebody takes his cellphone.The probable consequences of mobile phone dependency are failure in academic or official performance,committing crime for the sake of paying bills, having a mental breakdown or even death. Also it is suggested that excessive use of cell phones can lead to health compromising behaviours like drinking, smoking, drugs etc.( Koivusilta, Lintonen, & Rimpelä, 2003, 2005).So it is suggested that we need to take measures to avoid the mental and physical Health effects of mobile phone dependency (Toda, Monden, Kubo, & Morimoto,2004).

So, when there are people on one side losing their health and happiness due to mobile dependency, there are people who make a lot of money due to this. These are the telecom companies that come up with various schemes to attract this segment and make them more mobile dependent. Though, Society as a whole needs mobile phones for faster information transfer and improved standards of life, the basic necessity of life ,peace, tension-free environment  and happiness are lost because of the mobile phone dependency. Another point of view is mobile phone dependency through fastest information transfer has helped open up opportunities in the IT era and has increased the efficiency of the businesses   carried over around the world.  

Relationship Orientation

Relationship is the association, affiliation or connection between two or more people. Relationships can be classified or categorised based on the level of intimacy, modes of connection, level of dependency.The factors causing and in a way affecting relationships can be listed as consanguinity(blood relations),common ground, legal sanctions like marraiges, friendship, transitivity in friendship(becoming a friend’s friend) etc.There are studies like sociology, psychology and anthropology which have contributed in their own way towards forming multiple opinions on the same. Social psychologists view that endurance in a relationship is possible through mutual trust. Social exchange theorists who have proposed the interdependence theory (Kelley and Thibaut , 1978; Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) suggests that the extent to which an individual depends on a relationship is a relative one. In other words, one relationship is considered more valuable than another if more benefits are perceived out of one relationship compared to another. Equity Theorists (Walster, Walster, and Berscheid 1978) have opposed the propositions of Social exchange theorists and propose that people are not particular about expectations in a relationship, they look forward to equity and fairness in relationships.

There are two other styles of viewing relationships. Relationship dialectics which questions the static nature of relationships and propose that relationships oscillate in the continuum scales of autonomy and  connection, novelty and  predictability, and openness and closeness.

Attachment styles emphasize the childhood effect on the personality of a person when dealing with relationships. The experiences in his childhood determine the way he treats every relationships.There are ways in which people sustain relationships.commitment theory (Frank, 1988; Nesse, 2001) proposes that emotions play a key role to take adaptive actions that ensure sustaining relationships.The emotions that have been developed as part of childhood experiences,reasoning about how moral behaviour benefits decide what types of actions a person would take,what type of relationships will be sustained in his local network.Also,proxy theory of emotions (ALAN PAGE FISKE,2002)  emphasizes that though the society want us to be cool,slowly evolving, the emotions which are exactly opposite hot and selfish (Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999) surprisingly result in actions which work in the way of ensuring social recognition and that acts as the current investment in ensuring long-term relationships. So, a person will take actions continuously to connect himself to people though it is for self-recognition. But this will act as foundation for long-term relationships. The views of all the studies seen above as well as the expert’s views on how to sustain relationships seen above emphasizes that communication and connectivity will ensure enduring relationships. 

 

 Relationship orientation and Perceived Usefulness of per second billing

Today mobile phones have become essential part of everybody’s life. These facilitate our relationships by making us able to contact those who we would not otherwise be able to for conversations or to arrange meetings5. Wei and Lo (2006) found that mobile phone use was important in social relationships. By asking Taiwese students to state how often they send and receive calls to certain groups such as family and friends, they found mobile phone use strengthened the users’ family bonds, therefore improving social support, and expanded their psychological neighbourhoods. Else and Turkle (2006) believe that with advent of mobile technology thoughts and feelings are shared instantaneously through phones and other technology sources, mean a person is never truly alone, leading to dependency on other people. In a study conducted in japan it has been found out that mobile phones help strengthen the parent child relationship6. A study conducted Australian National University following a survey of more than 1,300 mobile phone users concluded that mobiles are key to modern relationships7.

So, it can be inferred that more relationship orientation a person has more useful mobile will be for him as this is the latest way to stay connected with your near and dear ones. Hence for per sec plan users this benefit holds true as well as the studies conducted on affect of relationships on mobiles are independent of any particular tariff plan.

Hence our hypothesis is:

H1: Relationship orientation is positively correlated with the Perceived usefulness of per second billing plan

.

Mobile dependency and Perceived usefulness of per second billing

Mobile phones have become indispensable in today’s life. It has changed the way we work socialize and live our lives7. Mobiles are used for variety of purposes, they have camera, Fm radio, Music players, games, schedulers, and you can check email, text message, book tickets and the list of uses is endless. These all have made people dependent on the mobiles. The level of dependence is so high that in a recent survey by Synovate in Malaysia, found that people would rather lose their wallet or purse than their mobile phones8. This dependence on mobile phones has reached addiction levels in china where it has been named as “mobile phone dependence” syndrome9.Mobile service providers are coming up with more aggressive pricing plans to gather larger share of markets10, and as the mobile services proliferate people will become more dependent on mobiles. One factor affecting people’s decisions on adopting or not adopting an innovation is its relative advantage, which is defined as “. . . the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes” (Rogers, 1995, p. 212). Price is one component in this relative advantage.

In India the price elasticity of demand for mobile services is high (Erich Buerkler, 2005) [l].Hence any tariff plan which customers feel will reduce their costs of service will help to increase the number of users. Per second plan has been introduced keeping in mind the price conscious customers, therefore a person who is dependent on mobile will find per second billing useful as it will reduce his usage charges.

Hence the Hypothesis is

H2: Mobile Dependency positively correlates with Perceived usefulness of per second billing plan

Relationships orientation and Mobile dependency

The extension (Rusbult (1983))  of interdependence theory is that three elements determine relationship level. They are Satisfaction level, quality of alternatives and the investment size. Also there is a strong commitment in case of high satisfaction. Commitment is established through frequent communication. Communication is possible when there is connectivity. So, when a person is connected to more people , he is said to be more satisfied and he has more alternatives which means that he has high relationship level. Working backwards, people with high relationship level will be more connected. The more connected they want to be , the more mobile dependent they will be. The research article (Satoko Ezoe,Masahiro Toda,Kimio Yoshimura,Aki Naritomi,Rei Den & Kanehisa Morimoto,2004) that studied the relationships of personality and life style with mobile phone conducted on female nursing students specify that there are studies(Yellowlees & Marks, 2007) that suggest that dependence or addiction is caused by certain predispositions or personal qualities that people possess.Also,in particular the two factors which are predominantly deciding dependence on mobile phone seem to be extroversion and neurotism.Previous studies (Ruiz, Pincus, & Dickinson, 2003) have shown that extroversion and neurotism can lead to pathological abuse.Also prveious studies (McCormick, Dowd, Quirk, & Zegarra, 1998) have shown that extroversion and neurotism can lead to substance abuse.Abuse is the extreme form dependence.Dependence when prolonged cause addiction or abuse.Now extrtovert is a person who maintain a lot of relationships and his relationship level is high.So if the previous studies conclude that extroversion leads to abuse,it can be hypothesized that more the relationships a person has,more mobile dependence he will have.Also there have been researches (Brenner, 1996; Egger, 1996;Griffiths, 1997; Morahan-Martin, 1997; Thompson, 1996; Scherer, 1997; Young, 1996a, Young,1996b, Young 1997) which hypothesized that certain personality traits like social impairments can lead to internet dependence .This means people who don’t have higher relationship levels have higher dependence on internet or mobile phone. This was against the hypothesis considered. But a study conducted( Dr. Kimberly S. Young & Robert C. Rodgers,1998) was not able to prove this hypothesis.It ended up with no significant relationship between social impairment(low relationships) and internet/mobile dependence. This again cannot prove the alternate hypothesis that lower relationships lead to higher mobile dependence. This can be an indication that the reverse is true, that higher relationships lead to higher mobile dependence.

H3: Relationship Orientation is positively correlated with mobile dependency

Mobile dependency as a mediator 

The current literature talks about either the affect of relationship orientation on perceived usefulness of per second billing or the affect of mobile dependency on this usefulness. But according to us, mobile dependency acts as a mediator in the relation between relationship orientation and perceived usefulness of per second billing. Brainstorming is how we arrived at this relation as per second billing plan itself is very new and almost nil literature exists when it comes to this mediation effect. As discussed above, the more relationship oriented a person is, the more will he/she be dependent on communication tools like mobile, internet etc. This in turn increases his dependency on mobiles. This dependence on mobiles then leads to perceived usefulness of per second billing plan. One of the strongest arguments in this regard, was that per second billing plan has been made keeping in mind the price consciousness of a segment of customers. Now, if a person is mobile dependent then he would prefer per second billing plan. Hence, the hypothesis is:

H4: Relationship Orientation is positively correlated with the perceived usefulness of per second billing plan with mediation effect of mobile dependency

Gender

Gender is a social identification with which an individual identifies himself with either being male or female. As per Wikipedia, Gender is the wide set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female entities, extending from one's biological sex to, in humans, one's social role or gender identity. Traits can be categorised into masculine and feminine. Assertiveness, and independence are supposed to be masculine traits while sensitivity and responsibility can be associated with femininity. Girls and women are generally more social interdependent as per Natalia, Dodd and Wilcox, 2009. Many studies have been observed over the years which prove that men and women behave differently like the one done by Childs & Maher, 2003 etc. This difference is observed in many situations. Consumption is one domain which can be associated with gender differences. And hence, these days more studies are being conducted for the kind of difference which gender creates when it comes to consumer behaviour. Natalia Kolyesnikova, Tim H. Dodd and James B. Wilcox from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA in their paper ‘Gender as a moderator of reciprocal consumer behaviour’, 2009 discuss that this difference becomes even more evident when it comes to consumer behaviour. As discussed in their paper, ‘Science, Technology and Risk Perception’, 2008, Henwood, Parkhill and Pidgeon point out two important observations regarding gender. It is not that women do not engage with technology, but that it is typically with soft/small rather than hard/large artefacts. And when it comes to styles of thought, either ‘objectivist rationality, emotional detachment and abstract theory’ vs ‘subjective rationality, emotional connectedness concrete and holistic approaches’ they point out that abstract styles of thinking are typically associated with men and more concrete with women. These studies point out to the difference in opinion and state of mind which exist amongst both the genders when it comes to choosing a technology. A few examples are from studies like Gefen and Straub (1997) which reveal that women and men differ in their perception of e-mail, while Venkatesh and Morris (2000) find gender differences in the motives for using a new software system at a workplace.

Gender as a moderator

Several studies have focussed on using mobile phone services like studies of technology usage, Gefen and Straub, 1997, studies of the motives for using the mobile internet (Lee et al., 2002; Fogelgren-Pedersen et al., 2003), cellular telephones (Kwon and Chidambaram, 2000), mobile text messaging, mobile gaming services, and mobile contact services (Nysveen et al., 2005) etc. But few studies have been done on the effect of gender as a moderator. Our understanding of gender as a moderator is primarily based on the study done by Nysveen, Pedersen and Thorbjornson, 2005 and brainstorming which we did. This study reveals that men are more instrumental and extrinsically motivated in communicating than women. This may lead to the fact that men find more usefulness of mobile technology than women. It also points out to the fact that intention to use any service is based on the behavioural intention, and is defined as “the strength of one’s intention to perform a specified behavior” (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975, p. 288). It has been stated previously while explaining gender as a construct that how men and women have different outlook and behave differently. PAQ(Personal Attributes Questionnaire) studies reveal that interpersonally-oriented, expressive qualities are more salient for women than for men (Spence and Helmreich, 1978). This again reinforces the fact that gender plays a moderating role when we study the usefulness of per second billing plan.

H5: Gender has a moderation effect on the relation between relationship orientation and per second billing plan

From above all discussions the hypothesis which are proposed

H1: Relationship orientation is positively correlated with the Perceived usefulness of per second billing plan

H2: Mobile Dependency positively correlates with Perceived usefulness of per second billing plan

H3: Relationship Orientation is positively correlated with mobile dependency

H4: Relationship Orientation is positively correlated with the perceived usefulness of per second billing plan with mediation effect of mobile dependency

H5: Gender has a moderation effect on the relation between relationship orientation and per second billing plan

MODEL

H4

Mobile Dependency

H2

H3

Perceived Usefulness of Per Sec Billing Plan

Relationship Orientation

H1

H5

Gender

Operationalization of Variables

Perceived Usefulness

For the purpose this research perceived usefulness includes the factor of money consciousness. So, the overall questionnaire used for measuring Perceived usefulness combines the questions from Chung Hsuing Liao et al (2007) for measuring usefulness and Vanchai Ariyabuddhiphongs (2007) for measuring money consciousness. 7 point likert type scale has been used to measure perceived usefulness. At one end we will have people who won’t find this tariff plan useful at other end of the spectrum there will be people who will find the tariff plan useful.

Relationship Orientation

Relationship is the association, affiliation or connection between two or more people. This factor is captured by using the relationship questionnaire used by researchers (Stinson, Logel et al. 2008). These researchers had used three relationship aspects i.e. Social support, Social Integration and Social Stress. We have considered only social support aspect as that is relevant for the purpose of this research.We have used 7 point likert scale. Low score suggests low quality relationships and poor support from family and friends. High score suggests vice versa.

Mobile Dependency

Mobile phone dependency measures the intensity of mobile usage. We have used mobile phone dependence questionnaire (MPDQ) used by (Toda, Monden, Kubo and Morimoto 2004) researchers to gauge mobile phone dependence. We have used 7 point likert scale for measurement. We have reduced the questions from original study to suit to the needs of our research. High Scores indicate greater dependence on mobiles.

METHODS

Sample

A total of 152 respondents from various B schools were administered questionnaire online. All respondents were students of b schools.. Name was used to identify the respondents but that was optional.

Measures

The three constructs were measured in the following ways:-

Perceived Usefulness

To measure Perceived usefulness 7 point likert scale has been used. All the items were straight scored and ratings across all the questions for this construct have been summed. A sample item can be “Using per sec billing plan is convenient”. Respondents had to rate from 1 to 7 (Strongly disagree to strongly agree)

Relationship Orientation

For relationship orientation measurement we have used 7 point likert scale. Some items have been reverse scored for the measurement of this construct. Then sum of all the ratings has been used to give the relationship orientation. A sample item can be “I am comfortable being close to my friends”. Respondents were to rate it from 1 to 7 (from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

Mobile Dependency

Mobile dependency has been measured using 7 point likert scale. All the items have been straight scored and sum of ratings for all the questions gives us the level of mobile dependency. Higher score means higher mobile dependency. A sample item can be “Even while riding on trains, I make and receive calls”. Respondents had to rate from 1 to 7 (never to always).

ANALYSIS

Results

Discussion of Results

Limitations and Implications

One of the biggest limitations of this study was that the sample was taken only from B schools. The sample could have been more diverse. Hence the results can’t be generalized.

There may be other factors which effect the perceived usefulness of the per second billing plan which may have not been accounted for in this study.

Also while filling relationship orientation survey respondents will have social desirability bias, hence its results may not reflect the true picture.

The per second billing plan is recent tariff plan, there is a possibility that the respondents may not be knowing about all the features of the plan.

Future Scope

This research paper is one of the first to study the perceived usefulness of per second billing plan after it has been introduced in August 2009. There is lot of scope to conduct study across various segments of society on the usefulness of the per second billing plan.

Conclusion


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