Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Tracey Dalton

Abstract

There are numerous technological acceptance and adoption theories that seek to explain how, why, and at what rate new technologies diffuse through systems over time. While the models can be used to explain why users adopt technologies, they do so in a general way and few, if any, studies have addressed the factors that affect monitoring technology adoption in coastal management. This study explores coastal managers’ and water quality monitors’ perspectives on water quality monitoring technology using various technology acceptance and adoption theories as a theoretical framework to better understand the factors that affect water quality monitoring technology adoption in coastal management.

This study utilizes qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection in a two-part approach: (1) semi-structured interviews, and (2) online surveys. In person interviews were conducted with RI coastal managers to get an in-depth understanding of the factors that affect technology adoption, attitudes and perceptions of technology innovations, and technological needs based on environmental conditions. Data from the interviews were used, along with other sources, to develop a framework of factors affecting water quality technology adoption in coastal management. The online survey investigated how the framework applies to coastal researchers within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). In addition, the survey investigated respondents’ likelihood of adopting two innovative monitoring technologies: a low-cost, handheld nanoscale biosensor and an Imaging FlowCytobot. Factors from the existing literature on technology adoption, such as technological conditions and external conditions, and additional factors, such as accuracy, reliability, and approved method for water quality monitoring, greatly influence the rate of technology adoption in coastal management. Findings from this study show that characteristics, needs, and preferences of coastal managers greatly affect which factors are important for technology adoption and that these factors do not necessarily align with the literature. In addition, a majority of respondents was willing to adopt the nanoscale biosensor. Observability, the degree to which the benefits (or limitations) of an innovation are visible to others, was statistically significantly more important to respondents who were not willing to adopt the biosensor than those who were willing to adopt it. Findings from this study provide a more detailed understanding of perceptions and attitudes towards existing and emerging monitoring technology; identify potential developments for technological innovations that can be used to better address changing environmental conditions; and provide coastal managers/water quality program directors with insight into how individuals are using technology in order to develop better water quality monitoring programs.

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