When employees give IT a second chance

Research project

When employees give IT a second chance

Theoretical foundations, empirical evidence and recommendations for action as to why employees (do not) use corporate IT again after significant interruptions.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were left to their own devices while working from home, using various digital technologies to carry out their daily tasks. Even after returning from remote work, many employees continue to rely on these digital technologies, posing significant security risks and resulting in a heterogeneous IT landscape for companies. For example, many employees turned to Dropbox instead of network drives to store or share company data, despite previous security breaches. Therefore, it has become a critical goal for companies to encourage employees to return to internal digital technologies, especially after the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The use of digital technologies is one of the most established research areas in business informatics. Consequently, research can explain why individuals start using digital technologies, continue to use them over time, and eventually stop using them, using various theories and models. In addition, this project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), develops a theoretical understanding of why individuals return to a previously used digital technology and how companies can support this process. The project provides insights that ending the use of a digital technology may not be final and why employees give digital technologies a second chance. The implications open up promising avenues for further research and provide important practical insights, including concrete recommendations, management strategies, and design options for digital technologies in companies.


First research findings clearly indicate that many individuals discontinue the use of digital technologies in private contexts (e.g., social media platform Facebook) and then resume the usage after months or even years. By using theoretical perspectives such as the Return Migration Theory, we were able to explain this behavior and identify reasons for it. In simple terms, "ex-users" fondly remember the previous usage as being useful and enjoyable, while also missing the digital technology in the present, which leads to a change in mindset and a resumption of usage.

Building on this, we then integrated several theories to provide a broader understanding. Our results highlight the importance of satisfaction with a previously used digital technology, as it leads to a return to its usage. Furthermore, the opinion of the social environment influences the return, with individuals being more likely to give digital technologies a second chance if many friends are using them.

Selected publications

  • Maier, C., Laumer, S., Thatcher, J.B., Sun, H., Weinert, C., and Weitzel, T. (2021)
    Social networking site use resumption: A model of return migration
    Journal of the Association for Information Systems, https://doi.org/10.17705/1jais.00688
  • Hotter, N., Stoeckl, F., Maier, C., and Eckhardt, A. (2023)
    Coming Back For More: Exploring Three Theoretical Perspectives Influencing IS Resumption
    Forthcoming in: ECIS 2023 Proceedings


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Project lead

Prof. Dr. Christian Maier


Marco Meier