Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 2 2022 pp. 483-512

Why Do Data Analysts Take IT-Mediated Shortcuts? An Ego-Depletion Perspective

Ghasemaghaei, Maryam and Turel, Ofir


We aim to understand why employees take information technology (IT)-mediated shortcuts, that is, skipping one or several steps for completing tasks quicker by bending the rules. This is a specific and often detrimental form of noncompliant behavior. Adopting an ego-depletion perspective, we posit that IT complexity drives IT-mediated shortcuts by increasing employees’ ego-depletion. Extending this view, we use a modified Delphi study and build on self-regulatory and goal setting theories to point to key boundary conditions for these effects. First, in a preliminary study we found that taking IT-mediated shortcuts in our context is, on average, detrimental to employee performance. This highlighted the need to focus on IT-mediated shortcuts. Next, we tested our assertions with three experiments focusing on the use of dashboards with 584 data analysts. The results show that (1) dashboard complexity increases ego depletion, (2) ego depletion fully mediates the impact of dashboard complexity on taking IT-mediated shortcuts, (3) moral integrity moderates the influence of ego depletion on taking IT-mediated shortcuts, and (4) outcome compared to learning goals enhance the impact of ego depletion on IT-mediated shortcuts. In all studies, objectively measured IT-mediated shortcut-taking was negatively associated with objectively measured task performance. Ultimately, the integrated perspective explains whether, how, and under what conditions IT complexity drives IT-mediated shortcuts.

Key words and phrases: IT complexity, IT-mediated shortcuts, work noncompliance, workarounds, moral integrity, goal setting, ego depletion, IT-mediated noncompliance, data analysts