BIS Cluster: What do Models Really Offer to Users?

20 February, 2015 - 10:30 to 12:00
Room 215 Chamberlain Building #35


Conceptual models (CMs) are important artifacts for business and information systems analysis and design. Prior CM research has focused mainly on CM design and interpretation – usually with the goal of improving domain comprehension through better CM design.  Little research has examined what models offer for analysis and design tasks and what it takes to leverage their benefits. Such research would help practitioners learn how to maximize the return on investment of modeling. We turn to the concept of affordances as possibilities for goal-oriented actions that objects offer to their users. We theorize that the perception and actualization of affordances is largely a function of four factors: a CM’s symbolic expressions, external information, user abilities, and perceived effort. We examined our theoretical model through an experiment in which 101 students used process models to complete problem-solving tasks. Our results support our views regarding the importance of affordance perception and the symbolic expressions of the CM. However, we find no evidence of the influence of external information, user abilities, or perceived effort. Overall, the findings underscore the importance of designing the CM effectively, with appropriate affordances and symbolic expressions, from the outset. For affordance theory, our findings suggest that the appropriate design of symbolic expressions into artifacts appear to be more central to affordance actualization than goal-orientation or actualization effort.

Palash Bera, Saint Louis University

Eike Bernhard is a PhD Candidate with the IS School at QUT. His supervisors are Prof Jan Recker (QUT), A/Prof Marcello La Rosa (QUT) and Prof Andrew Burton-Jones (UQ). Eike’s research is on process modelling affordances. Specifically, the purpose of his work is to gain theory-driven, empirical insights into process modelling in the context of Business Process Management initiatives. His work led to several academic and industry publications as well as presentations at national and international conferences. Eike is also involved in teaching BPM to students and practitioners in Australia. He is a member of the Association of Information Systems and acts as reviewer for various journals and conferences, such as the BPM Journal and the International Conference on Information Systems. He holds a BSc and MSc in Business from the University of Muenster, Germany. You can contact Eike about his research and publications via email ( or follow him on twitter (