When robots join our team: A configuration theory of employees’ perceptions of and reactions to Robotic Process Automation





case study, configurational approach, financial institution, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), RPA implementation


Robotic process automation (RPA) as a lightweight automation technology has witnessed an increasing uptake in the industry in recent years. Despite considerable changes in employees’ tasks and processes brought about by the introduction of RPA, there is a lack of research that explores how employees react to an RPA implementation. Hence, the goal of this research is to understand employees’ perceptions of and reactions to RPA as these affect their interaction with the technology and, ultimately, their adoption and use. To address this research gap, we conducted a case study at a financial institution in New Zealand and interviewed 18 employees of the business units and members of the RPA team. Building on a configurational approach, we developed a mid-range theory and identified four distinct configurations that show how employees’ perceived consequences of software robots on their jobs influenced their collaboration with the automation team, their attitude towards the change in work tasks and processes and ultimately their interactions with software robots and attribution of software robots’ roles and performance. Our findings may inform implementation and change management strategies and accommodation initiatives to support employees’ needs to facilitate adoption, which is crucial for organisations to realise the benefits of RPA.


Aggarwal, P., & McGill, A. L. (2007). Is that car smiling at me? Schema congruity as a basis for evaluating anthropomorphized products. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(4), 468-479. doi:10.1086/518544

Aguirre, S., & Rodriguez, A. (2017). Automation of a business process using robotic process automation (RPA): A case study. In L.-S. E. Figueroa-García J., Villa-Ramírez J., Ferro-Escobar R. (Ed.), Applied Computer Sciences in Engineering. WEA 2017. Communications in Computer and Information Science (Vol. 742, pp. 65-71). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-66963-2_7

Alberth, M., & Mattern, M. (2017). Understanding robotic process automation (RPA). Journal of Financial Transformation, 46, 54-61.

Aroles, J., Cecez-Kecmanovic, D., Dale, K., Kingma, S. F., & Mitev, N. (2021). New ways of working (NWW): Workplace transformation in the digital age. Information and Organization, 31(4), 1-11. doi:10.1016/j.infoandorg.2021.100378

Asatiani, A., & Penttinen, E. (2016). Turning robotic process automation into commercial success – case OpusCapita. Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 6(2), 67-74. doi:10.1057/jittc.2016.5

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. (2015). The robots are coming? Implications for finance shared services. 11-14. Retrieved from https://www.accaglobal.com/us/en/technical-activities/technical-resources-search/2015/september/robots-and-the-future-of-finance.html

Bala, H., & Venkatesh, V. (2013). Changes in employees' job characteristics during an enterprise system implementation: A latent growth modeling perspective. MIS Quarterly, 37(4), 1113-1140.

Bala, H., & Venkatesh, V. (2015). Adaptation to information technology: A holistic nomological network from implementation to job outcomes. Management Science, 62(1), 156-179. doi:10.1287/mnsc.2014.2111

Baptista, J., Stein, M.-K., Klein, S., Watson-Manheim, M. B., & Lee, J. (2020). Digital work and organisational transformation: Emergent digital/human work configurations in modern organisations. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 29(2), 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.jsis.2020.101618

Beaudry, A., & Pinsonneault, A. (2005). Understanding user responses to information technology: A coping model of user adaptation. MIS Quarterly, 29(3), 493-524. doi:10.2307/25148693

Benbya, H., Nan, N., Tanriverdi, H., & Yoo, Y. (2020). Complexity and information systems research in the emerging digital world. MIS Quarterly, 44(1), 1-17.

Bhattacherjee, A., Davis, C. J., Connolly, A. J., & Hikmet, N. (2018). User response to mandatory use: A coping theory perspective. European Journal of Information Systems, 27(4), 395-414. doi:10.1057/s41303-017-0047-0

Boudreau, M.-C., & Robey, D. (2005). Enacting integrated information technology: A human agency perspective. Organization Science, 16(1), 3-18. doi:10.1287/orsc.1040.0103

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. doi:10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Castelluccio, M. (2017). Artificial intelligence in business. Strategic Finance, 98(10), 55-57. Retrieved from https://sfmagazine-com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/post-entry/april-2017-artificial-intelligence-in-business/

Cewe, C., Koch, D., & Mertens, R. (2018). Minimal effort requirements engineering for robotic process automation with test driven development and screen recording. In W. M. Teniente E. (Ed.), Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing. Business Process Management Workshops. BPM 2017. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing (Vol. 308, pp. 642-648). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74030-0_51

Denagama Vitharanage, I. M., Bandara, W., Syed, R., & Toman, D. (2020). An empirically supported conceptualisation of robotic process automation (RPA) benefits. In the Proceedings of 28th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS2020). https://aisel.aisnet.org/ecis2020_rip/58

Eikebrokk, T. R., & Olsen, D. H. (2020). Robotic process automation and consequences for knowledge workers; A mixed-method study. In the Proceedings of Responsible Design, Implementation and Use of Information and Communication Technology: 19th IFIP WG 6.11 Conference on e-Business, e-Services, and e-Society, Skukuza, South Africa https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-44999-5_10

Epley, N., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). On seeing human: A three-factor theory of anthropomorphism. Psychological Review, 114(4), 864–886. doi:https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.114.4.864

Fernandez, D., & Aman, A. (2018). Impacts of robotic process automation on global accounting services. Asian Journal of Accounting and Governance, 9, 123-132. doi:10.17576/ajag-2018-09-11

Fiss, P. C. (2007). A set-theoretic approach to organizational configurations. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1180-1198. doi:10.5465/amr.2007.26586092

Fiss, P. C. (2011). Building better causal theories: A fuzzy set approach to typologies in organization research. Academy of Management Journal, 54(2), 393-420. doi:10.5465/amj.2011.60263120

Fong, C. T. (2006). The effects of emotional ambivalence on creativity. The Academy of Management Journal, 49(5), 1016-1030. doi:org/10.5465/amj.2006.22798182

Furnari, S., Crilly, D., Misangyi, V. F., Greckhamer, T., Fiss, P. C., & Aguilera, R. (2020). Capturing causal complexity: Heuristics for configurational theorizing. Academy of Management Review, 46(4), 1-50. doi:https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2019.0298

Guthrie, S. (1993). Faces in the clouds: A new theory of religion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hallikainen, P., Bekkhus, R., & Pan, S. L. (2018). How OpusCapita used internal RPA capabilities to offer services to clients. MIS Quarterly Executive, 17(1), 41-52.

Hinings, C. (2018). Why should we bother? What are configurations for? Strategic Organization, 16(4), 499-509. doi:10.1177/1476127018804796

Hofmann, P., Samp, C., & Urbach, N. (2020). Robotic process automation. Electronic Markets, 30(1), 99-106. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-019-00365-8

Hsu, P.-F., Yen, H. R., & Chung, J.-C. (2015). Assessing post-implementation success at the individual level: Revisiting the role of service quality. Information &Management, 52(8), 925-942. doi:10.1016/j.im.2015.06.009

IEEE Corporate Advisory Group (2017). IEEE guide for terms and concepts in intelligent process automation.

Institute for Robotic Process Automation. (2015). Introduction to robotic process automation: a Primer. 1-34. Retrieved from https://www.businesssystemsuk.co.uk/uploads/attachments/Papers/Robotic-Process-Automation-June2015.pdf

Ivančić, L., Suša Vugec, D., Bosilj Vukšić, V. (2019). Robotic Process Automation: Systematic Literature Review. In R. G. C. Di Ciccio, L. García-Bañuelos, T. Hernaus, R. Hull, M. Indihar Štemberger, A. Kő, M. Staples (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing (Vol. 361, pp. 280-295): Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30429-4_19

Ketchen, D. J., Combs, J. G., Russell, C. J., Shook, C., Dean, M. A., Runge, J., . . . Lamoureux, S. (1997). Organizational configurations and performance: A meta-analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 40(1), 223-240. doi:10.5465/257028

Klein, S., & Watson-Manheim, M. B. (2021). The (re-)configuration of digital work in the wake of profound technological innovation: Constellations and hidden work. Information and Organization, 31(4), 1-15. doi:10.1016/j.infoandorg.2021.100377

Kyheröinen, T. (2018). Implementation of robotic process automation to a target process–a case study. (Masters Thesis). Aalto University, Aaltodoc.

Lacity, M., & Willcocks, L. (2016a). Robotic process automation at Telefónica. MIS Quarterly Executive, 15(1), 21-35.

Lacity, M., & Willcocks, L. (2016b). Robotic process automation: The next transformation lever for shared services. The Outsourcing Unit Working Research Paper Series, 1-35.

Lacity, M., & Willcocks, L. P. (2017). A new approach to automating services. MIT Sloan Management Review, 58(1), 1-16.

Lamberton, C., Gillard, A., & Kaczmarskyj, G. (2016). Get ready for robots - why planning makes the difference between success and disappointment. 1-9. Retrieved from https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Get_ready_for_robots/$FILE/ey-get-ready-for-robots.pdf

Lapointe, & Rivard. (2005). A multilevel model of resistance to information technology implementation. MIS Quarterly, 29(3), 461-491. doi:10.2307/25148692

Levers, M.-J. D. (2013). Philosophical paradigms, grounded theory, and perspectives on emergence. Sage Open, 3(4), 1-6. doi:10.1177/2158244013517243

Met, İ., Kabukçu, D., Uzunoğulları, G., Soyalp, Ü., & Dakdevir, T. (2020). Transformation of business model in finance sector with artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. In U. Hacioglu (Ed.), Digital Business Strategies in Blockchain Ecosystems. Contributions to Management Science. (pp. 3-29). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29739-8_1

Meyer, A. D., Tsui, A. S., & Hinings, C. R. (1993). Configurational approaches to organizational analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 36(6), 1175-1195. doi:https://doi.org/10.5465/256809

Miller, D. (1996). Configurations revisited. Strategic Management Journal, 17(7), 505-512. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2486729

Miller, D. (2018). Challenging trends in configuration research: Where are the configurations? Strategic Organization, 16(4), 453-469. doi:10.1177/1476127017729315

Misangyi, V. F., Greckhamer, T., Furnari, S., Fiss, P. C., Crilly, D., & Aguilera, R. (2017). Embracing causal complexity. Journal of Management, 43(1), 255-282. doi:10.1177/0149206316679252

Morris, & Venkatesh. (2010). Job characteristics and job satisfaction: Understanding the role of enterprise resource planning system implementation. MIS Quarterly, 34(1), 143-161. doi:10.2307/20721418

Moussawi, S., Koufaris, M., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2020). How perceptions of intelligence and anthropomorphism affect adoption of personal intelligent agents. Electronic Markets, 31, 343–364. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-020-00411-w

Myers, M. D., & Newman, M. (2007). The qualitative interview in IS research: Examining the craft. Information and Organization, 17(1), 2-26.


Myers, M. D., & Walsham, G. (1998). Exemplifying interpretive research in information systems: An overview. Journal of Information Technology, 13(4), 233 - 234.

Ortiz De Guinea, A., & Webster, J. (2013). An investigation of information systems use patterns: Technological events as triggers, the effect of time, and consequences for performance. MIS Quarterly, 37(4), 1165-1188. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43825786

Penttinen, E., Kasslin, H., & Asatiani, A. (2018). How to choose between robotic process automation and back-end system automation? In the Proceedings of European Conference on Information Systems, Portsmouth, UK. https://aisel.aisnet.org/ecis2018_rp/66

Plattfaut, R. (2019). Robotic process automation–process optimization on steroids? In the Proceedings of International Conference on Information Systems, Munich, Germany. https://aisel.aisnet.org/icis2019/practice_is_research/practice_is_research/3/

Pratt, M. G., & Doucet, L. (2000). Ambivalent feelings in organizational relationships. In S. Fineman (Eds.), Emotion in Organizations (pp. 204-226). London: Sage Publications.

Qiu, L., & Benbasat, I. (2005). An investigation into the effects of text-to-speech voice and avatars on the perception of presence and flow of live help in electronic commerce. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 12(4), 329-355. doi:10.1145/1121112.1121113

Ragin, C. C. (1987). The comparative method: Moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strategies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ragin, C. C. (2008). Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy sets and beyond. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ratia, M., Myllärniemi, J., & Helander, N. (2018). Robotic process automation - value by digitalizing work in the private healthcare? In the Proceedings of International Academic Mindtrek Conference, Tampere, Finland https://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3275116.3275129

Rosso, B. D., Dekas, K. H., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 91-127. doi:10.1016/j.riob.2010.09.001

Rutaganda, L., Bergstrom, R., Jayashekhar, A., Jayasinghe, D., & Ahmed, J. (2017). Avoiding pitfalls and unlocking real business value with RPA Journal of Financial Transformation, 46, 104-115.

Santos, F., Pereira, R., & Vasconcelos, J. B. (2019). Toward robotic process automation implementation: An end-to-end perspective. Business Process Management Journal, 26(2), 405-420. doi:doi:10.1108/bpmj-12-2018-0380

Sarker, S., Xiao, X., Beaulieu, T., & Lee, A. S. (2018). Learning from first-generation qualitative approaches in the IS discipline: An evolutionary view and some implications for authors and evaluators (part 1/2). Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 19(8), 752-774. doi:10.17705/1jais.00508

Schuetzler, R. M., Grimes, G. M., & Scott Giboney, J. (2020). The impact of chatbot conversational skill on engagement and perceived humanness. Journal of Management Information Systems, 37(3), 875-900. doi:10.1080/07421222.2020.1790204

Seeber, I., Bittner, E., Briggs, R. O., de Vreede, T., de Vreede, G.-J., Elkins, A., . . . Söllner, M. (2020). Machines as teammates: A research agenda on AI in team collaboration. Information & management, 57(2), 1-22. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2019.103174

Seeber, I., Waizenegger, L., Seidel, S., Morana, S., Benbasat, I., & Lowry, P. B. (2020). Collaborating with technology-based autonomous agents: Issues and research opportunities. Internet Research, 30(1), 1-18. doi:10.1108/INTR-12-2019-0503

Seiffer, A., Gnewuch, U., & Maedche, A. (2021). Understanding employee responses to software robots: A systematic literature review. In the Proceedings of International Conference on Information Systems, Austin, Texas.


Sheehan, B., Jin, H. S., & Gottlieb, U. (2020). Customer service chatbots: Anthropomorphism and adoption. Journal of Business Research, 115, 14-24. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.04.030

Staaby, A., Hansen, K. S., & Grønli, T.-M. (2021). Automation of routine work: A case study of employees' experiences of work meaningfulness. In the Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.


Statista. (2020). Robotic process automation (RPA) adoption and investment rates worldwide in 2019, by organization size. Technology & Telecommunications - Software. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1017027/worldwide-robotic-process-automation-adoption-investment-rates-organization-size/

Stein, M., Newell, S., Wagner, E., & Galliers, R. (2015). Coping with information technology: Mixed emotions, vacillation, and nonconforming use patterns. MIS Quarterly, 39(2), 367-392. doi:10.2307/26628358

Syed, R., Suriadi, S., Adams, M., Bandara, W., Leemans, S. J., Ouyang, C., . . . Reijers, H. A. (2020). Robotic process automation: Contemporary themes and challenges. Computers in Industry, 115, 1-15. doi:10.1016/j.compind.2019.103162

Thomas, D. R. (2003). A general inductive approach for qualitative data analysis. University of Auckland, Auckland.

van der Aalst, W. M. P., Bichler, M., & Heinzl, A. (2018). Robotic process automation. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 60(4), 269-272. doi:10.1007/s12599-018-0542-4

Vishnu, S., Agochiya, V., & Palkar, R. (2017). Data-centered dependencies and opportunities for robotics process automation in banking. Journal of Financial Transformation, 45(1), 68-76.

Waizenegger, L., & Techatassanasoontorn, A. A. (2020). “You have no idea how much we love Casper” – Developing configurations of employees’ RPA implementation experiences." (2020). In Proceedings of the Australasian Conference on Information Systems 2020. https://aisel.aisnet.org/acis2020/21

Walsham, G. (1995). The emergence of interpretivism in IS research. Information Systems Research, 6(4), 376-394. doi:https://doi.org/10.1287/isre.6.4.376

Wanchai, P., Díaz Andrade, A., & Techatassanasoontorn, A. (2019). IT adaptation patterns to enterprise-wide systems. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 45(1), 226-250. doi:10.17705/1CAIS.04515

Wengraf, T. (2001). Qualitative research interviewing: Biographic narrative and semi-structured methods. London: Sage.

Wessel, L., Baiyere, A., Ologeanu-Taddei, R., Cha, J., & Blegind Jensen, T. (2021). Unpacking the difference between digital transformation and IT-enabled organizational transformation. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(1), 102-129. doi:10.17705/1jais.00655

Yin Yeh, J., & Ouyang, Y. C. (2010). How an organization changes in ERP implementation: A semiconductor case study. Business Process Management Journal, 16(2), 209-225. doi:10.1108/14637151011035561




How to Cite

Waizenegger, L., & Techatassanasoontorn, A. A. (2022). When robots join our team: A configuration theory of employees’ perceptions of and reactions to Robotic Process Automation. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 26. https://doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v26i0.3833



Selected Papers from the Australasian Conference on Information Systems (ACIS)