Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Evelyn Odonkor (American University of Paris & Université Paris-Dauphine, DRM-Ermes) Jessie Pallud (EM Strasbourg Business School, HuManiS)

Mobile Technologies and the Extended Self in Developing Countries

The Mobile Revolution that has taken place in several developing countries has made mobile phones and smartphones central technologies all around the world. While these mobile technologies convey hope to the people living in developing countries, very few studies have tried to understand the values and assumptions embedded in mobile technologies and the roles of these digital possessions in people’s lives. Relying on the theory of the Extended Self (Belk 1988, 2013) and the literature on symbolic meanings related to information systems, we develop and test a research model that contains eight hypotheses. Survey responses were collected from 430 inhabitants from Ghana. The data was collected in April 2015 in Ghana, where one of the researchers spent a few weeks for our study. Data was collected with a paper-based questionnaire in English. The questionnaire was mainly distributed in the streets, in universities and also in several companies to increase diversity in responses. We collected the data in these specific cities: Accra (the capital city with about 2.2 million inhabitants), Tema (largest seaport of Ghana), Takoradi and a few small towns. However, the questionnaire was aimed at people who possess a mobile phone. Participation was voluntary, and participants received a reward (e.g. small gifts) of less than 1 dollar. Regarding the survey instrument, we used existing scales from prior research that we adapted to the context of mobile phones. we selected the seven activities performed with mobile phones that were suggested by AOL BBDO Mobile Research (2012) in order to have a richer measure of usage. Ease of use and Usefulness were borrowed from Davis (1989) and have four items each. We reused Mathieson’s (1991) scale for Social Influence. Hope was measured with four items from Snyder et al. (1996). The four items of extended self were adapted from Sivadas & Machleit (1994). We relied on the five dimensions of Flow developed by Guo and Poole (2009). Last, we assessed symbolic drivers of personal self with the scales of Arbore et al. (2014). We are currently at the final stages of our study, our preliminary results show that digital possessions, namely mobile phones, have a positive influence on adult state hope, which in turn impacts extended self. Keywords Mobile technologies, extended self, hope, digital possessions, identity, and developing countries.