One app to trace them all? Examining app specifications for mass acceptance of contact-tracing apps

Simon Trang, Manuel Trenz*, Welf H. Weiger, Monideepa Tarafdar, Christy M K Cheung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


The current COVID-19 crisis has seen governments worldwide mobilising to develop and implement contact-tracing apps as an integral part of their lockdown exit strategies. The challenge facing policy makers is that tracing can only be effective if the majority of the population uses the one app developed; its specifications must therefore be carefully considered. We theorise on tracing apps and mass acceptance and conduct a full-factorial experiment to investigate how app installation intention is influenced by different app specifications based on three benefit appeals, two privacy designs, and two convenience designs. By applying quantile regression, we not only estimate the general effect of these app specifications but also uncover how their influence differs among citizens with different propensities for acceptance (i.e. critics, undecided, advocates)–a crucial insight for succeeding with mass acceptance. This study contributes to research in three ways: we theorise how mass acceptance differs from established app acceptance, we provide a fine-grained approach to investigating the app specifications salient for mass acceptance, and we reveal contextualised insights specific to tracing apps with multi-layered benefit structures. Our findings can guide policy makers by providing specification recommendations for facilitating mass acceptance of tracing apps during pandemics or other societal crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-428
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

User-Defined Keywords

  • app specification
  • benefit appeals
  • contact-tracing apps
  • convenience
  • Coronavirus
  • experiment method
  • mass acceptance
  • privacy
  • Pär Ågerfalk, Kieran Conboy and Michael Myers


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