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Needs and technology adoption: observation from BIM experience

Vishal Singh (Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.)
Jan Holmström (Dept. of Industrial Engineering and Management, Aalto University School of Science, Espoo, Finland)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



Despite the recognized role of motivation of actors in technology adoption decisions, there is limited understanding of the psychological processes underlying the motivation. The purpose of this paper is to explore this gap by investigating Building Information Modeling (BIM) adoption from the viewpoint of Maslow’s motivational theory on hierarchy of needs.


This research uses mixed methods. Initially theoretical arguments establish the suitability of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the conceptual framework to investigate technology adoption. The hypotheses and research questions are investigated using data collected through focus group interviews, interviews and field observations in Australian architecture engineering and construction (AEC). The findings are validated with a survey of BIM adoption cases reported in literature, and additional interviews conducted in Finnish AEC sector. Finally, abductive reasoning is applied to seek the best possible explanation for the observed patterns.


It is found that besides individuals, organizations also demonstrate hierarchical ordering of innovation-related needs. Three broad categories of innovation-related needs are identified. Using abduction, the innovation-related needs of actors are described in terms of stable and excited states.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are primarily based on studies conducted in regions with developed economies.

Practical implications

This research shows that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs could be a useful diagnostic framework to assess actors’ response towards technology adoption.


This investigation into the potential usefulness of Maslow’s theory into understanding technology adoption is by itself a novel research contribution. The finding that hierarchical view of needs can partly explain the adoption decisions of both individual and organizational actors is an original contribution.



Singh, V. and Holmström, J. (2015), "Needs and technology adoption: observation from BIM experience", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 128-150.



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