Technology-organization-environment framework

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The technology-organization-environment (TOE) framework was created by Tornatzky and Fleisher (1990). It describes factors that influence technology adoption and its likelihood. TOE describes the process by which a firm adopts and implements technological innovations is influenced by the technological context, the organizational context, and the environmental context (Tornatzky and Fleisher 1990).

The technological context includes the internal and external technologies that are relevant to the firm. Technologies may include both equipment as well as processes.

The organizational context refers to the characteristics and resources of the firm, including the firm’s size, degree of centralization, degree of formalization, managerial structure, human resources, amount of slack resources, and linkages among employees.

The environmental context includes the size and structure of the industry, the firm’s competitors, the macroeconomic context, and the regulatory environment (Tornatzky and Fleisher 1990).

These three elements present “both constraints and opportunities for technological innovation” (Tornatzky and Fleisher 1990, p. 154). Thus, these three elements influence the way a firm sees the need for, searches for, and adopts new technology.

The TOE model according to Theories Used in IS Research Wiki


Seminal articles
  • Tornatzky, L.G., and Fleischer, M. The Processes of Technological Innovation. Lexington Books, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1990.
  • Rogers, E.M. Diffusion of Innovations, (4th ed.) The Free Press, New York, 1995.
  • Angeles, Rebecca (2013). Using the Technology-Organization-Environment Framework and Zuboff’s Concepts for Understanding Environmental Sustainability and RFID: Two Case Studies International Journal of Social, Management, Economics and Business Engineering Vol:7 No:11, 2013,
  • Angeles, R., RFID supply chains of Purdue and Cephalon : Applying the TOE framework in seeking e-pedigree compliance. IEEE, City, 2012.
  • Bosch-Rekveldt, M., Jongkind, Y., Mooi, H., Bakker, H., and Verbraeck, A., "Grasping project complexity in large engineering projects : The TOE (Technical, Organizational and Environmental) framework," International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 29, No. 6, pp. 728-739, 2011.
  • Grover, V. "An Empirically Derived Model for the Adoption of Customer-Based Interorganizational Systems," Decision Sciences (24:3), May/June 1993, pp. 603-640.
  • Kuan, K.K.Y., and Chau, P.Y.K. "A Perception-Based Model for EDI Adoption in Small Businesses Using a Technology-Organization-Environment Framework," Information & Management (38:8) October 2001, pp. 507-521.
  • Lee, C.-P., and Shim, J.P. "An Exploratory Study of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Adoption in the Healthcare Industry," European Journal of Information Systems (16:6) December 2007, pp. 712-724.
  • Lee, K., Wang, M., Kim H, & Wang, Z. (2009). Knowledge management systems diffusion in Chinese enterprises: A multistage approach using the technology organization environment framework. Journal of Global Information Management (JGIM), 17(1), 70-84
  • Namisiko, P., Munialo, C., & Nyongesa, S. (2014). Towards an Optimization Framework for E-Learning in Developing Countries: A Case of Private Universities in Kenya. Journal of Computer Science, 2(2), 131-148. PDF
  • Zhu, K., Kraemer, K., and Sean Xu, K. "Electronic business adoption by European firms: a cross-country assessment of the facilitators and inhibitors," European Journal of Information Systems (12:4) 2003, pp. 251-268.
  • Zhu, K., and Kraemer, K.L. "Post-Adoption Variations in Usage and Value of E-Business by Organizations: Cross-Country Evidence from the Retail Industry," Information Systems Research (16:1) 2005, pp. 61-84.
  • Zhu, K., Kraemer, K.L., and Xu, S. "The Process of Innovation Assimilation by Firms in Different Countries: A Technology Diffusion Perspective on E-Business," Management Science (52:10) 2006, pp. 1557-1576.

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