Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 37 Number 1 2020 pp. 129-161

Using Design-Science Based Gamification to Improve Organizational Security Training and Compliance

Silic, Mario and Lowry, Paul Benjamin


We conducted a design-science research project to improve an organization’s compound problems of (1) unsuccessful employee phishing prevention and (2) poorly received internal security training. To do so, we created a gamified security training system focusing on two factors: (1) enhancing intrinsic motivation through gamification and (2) improving security learning and efficacy. Our key theoretical contribution is proposing a recontextualized kernel theory from the hedonic-motivation system adoption model that can be used to assess employee security constructs along with their intrinsic motivations and coping for learning and compliance. A six-month field study with 420 participants shows that fulfilling users’ motivations and coping needs through gamified security training can result in statistically significant positive behavioral changes. We also provide a novel empirical demonstration of the conceptual importance of “appropriate challenge” in this context. We vet our work using the principles of proof-of-concept and proof-of-value, and we conclude with a research agenda that leads toward final proof-in-use.

Key words and phrases: computer security, gamification, design science research, hedonic motivation, system adoption model, immersion, flow, security compliance, security education, training, awareness, SETA