Breaking or keeping the habits: Exploring the role of legacy habits in the process of discontinuing organizational information systems

Mohammad Rezazade Mehrizi*, Bart van den Hooff, Chaoran Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Users develop habits in relation to information systems (IS) to reduce the cognitive and behavioural efforts needed for using them. However, when these systems have to be discontinued, users face challenges regarding how to stop relying on their legacy habits. Despite their importance, we know little about how legacy habits shape the way users discontinue a legacy system. Through a comparative case‐study approach, in a large mortgage firm and an international telecommunication company, we identify three roles that these habits play during the discontinuance process. We demonstrate that legacy habits not only play an ‘inhibiting’ role by keeping users attached to legacy systems; they also play a ‘bridging’ role by acting as a common ground for users to start working with a new system and a ‘deterring’ role when users resent certain habits of working with the legacy systems, despite their orientation to keep relying on these habits. We contribute to the IS habit literature by extending the roles of legacy habits beyond an inhibiting role. We also enrich the conceptualisation of legacy habits beyond the individual level by showing that the socio‐technical conditions in which the habits are embedded impact the emergence and evolution of their roles during the discontinuance process. We discuss the implications of our findings for theorising and managing IS discontinuance process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-221
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number1
Early online dateMay 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Legacy information systems habits
  • Information system discontinuance,

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