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Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Ingrid Erickson and Steven Sawyer

This chapter advances an articulation of the contemporary knowledge worker as an infrastructural bricoleur. The practical and pragmatic intelligence of the contemporary…

Abstract

This chapter advances an articulation of the contemporary knowledge worker as an infrastructural bricoleur. The practical and pragmatic intelligence of the contemporary knowledge worker, particularly those involved in project-based work, reflects an ability to build adaptable practices and routines, and to develop a set of working arrangements that is creative and event-laden. Like Ciborra’s octopi, workers augment infrastructures by drawing on certain forms of oblique, twisted, flexible, circular, polymorphic and ambiguous thinking until an accommodation can be found. These workers understand the non-linearity of work and working, and are artful in their pursuits around, through and beyond infrastructural givens. Modern knowledge work, then, when looked at through the lens of infrastructure and bricolage, is less a story of failure to understand, a limitation in training or the shortcomings of a system, but instead is more a mirror of the contemporary realities of today’s knowledge work drift as reflected in individuals’ sociotechnical practices.

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Thinking Infrastructures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2012

Peter M. Bednar and Christine Welch

The purpose of this paper is to explore a particular philosophical underpinning for Information Systems (IS) research – critical systemic thinking (CST). Drawing upon…

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782

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a particular philosophical underpinning for Information Systems (IS) research – critical systemic thinking (CST). Drawing upon previous work, the authors highlight the principal features of CST within the tradition of critical research and attempt to relate it to trends in the Italian school of IS research in recent years, as exemplified by the work of Claudio Ciborra but also evident in work by, e.g. Resca, Jacucci and D'Atri.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper which explores CST, characterised by a focus on individual uniqueness, and socially‐constructed, individual worldviews as generators of human knowing.

Findings

The paper draws on work by Heinz Klein in which he elaborated three constitutive stages in critical research: interpretive, genealogical and constructive. The authors introduce a fourth, reflective stage and discuss five categories of critical research, reflecting different perspectives on emancipation, culminating in emergent expressionism, associated with Ciborra and the Italian school more generally.

Research limitations/implications

This paper discusses approaches to CST and how they might have practical implications in IS development. The distinction between approaches founded in logical empiricism and those founded in hermeneutic dialectics are considered and the development of critical and systems strands are discussed.

Practical implications

The paper addresses CST as an approach to development of information systems. Such approaches enable users to explore their individually unique understandings and create a constructive dialogue with one another, which emancipates and empowers users to own and control their own development processes and hence build more productive and usable systems.

Social implications

A focus on research which is oriented towards emancipation in the tradition of critical social theory.

Originality/value

The paper draws on extensive theoretical research carried out by the authors over a period of more than ten years in CST and synthesises the practical implications.

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Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 29 February 2008

Gitte Tjornehoj and Lars Mathiassen

While the literature on software process improvement (SPI) offers a number of studies of small software firms, little is known about how such initiatives evolve over time…

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1156

Abstract

Purpose

While the literature on software process improvement (SPI) offers a number of studies of small software firms, little is known about how such initiatives evolve over time. On this backdrop, this paper aims to investigate how adoption of SPI technology was shaped over a ten year period (1996‐2005) in a small Danish software firm.

Design/methodology/approach

The investigation is based on a longitudinal, interpretative case study of improvement efforts over a ten‐year period. To help structure the investigation, we focus on encounters that impacted engineering, management, and improvement practices within the firm. The study contributes to the SPI‐literature and the literature on organizational adoption of technology.

Findings

The paper finds the improvement effort fluctuating and shaped between management's attempt to control SPI technology adoption and events that caused the process to drift in unpredictable directions.

Practical implications

The experiences suggest that managers of small software firms remain flexible and constantly negotiate technology adoption practices between control and drift, creating momentum and direction according to firm goals through attempts to control, while at the same time exploring backtalk, options, and innovations from drifting forces inside and outside the firm.

Originality/value

Based on the research, the paper recommends substituting the “from control to drift” perspective on organizational adoption of complex technologies like SPI with a “negotiating control and drift” perspective.

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Information Technology & People, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Jannis Kallinikos

The paper seeks to develop a theory of information processes that invokes three major explanatory factors to account for the escalating patterns of information growth that…

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3783

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to develop a theory of information processes that invokes three major explanatory factors to account for the escalating patterns of information growth that have been taking place over the last decades.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptual analysis and review of relevant theories.

Findings

First, information is claimed to have a dual value as a description of a reference domain and a relationship that such a description may have or develop with already available descriptions within that domain or across reference domains. Second, the intrinsic combinability of technologically mediated information is substantially strengthened by the interoperable character of contemporary information infrastructures. Finally, information growth dynamics are intimately connected with the perishable and disposable character of information.

Originality/value

The paper presents a novel theory of information growth dynamics.

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Information Technology & People, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1987

Claudio U. Ciborra

The traditional role of computer‐based information systems is to provide support for individual decision making. According to this model, information is to be seen as a…

Abstract

The traditional role of computer‐based information systems is to provide support for individual decision making. According to this model, information is to be seen as a valuable resource for the decision maker faced with a complex task. Such a view of information systems in organizations does however fail to include such phenomena as the daily use of information for misrepresen‐tation purposes. The conventional systems analysis methods, whether they are data‐ or decision‐oriented, do not help in understanding the nature of organizations and their ways of processing information. This paper proposes what appears to be a more realistic approach to the analysis and design of information systems. Organizations are seen as networks of contracts which govern exchange transactions between members having only partially overlapping goals. Conflict of interests is explicitly admitted to be a factor affecting information and exchange costs. Information technology is seen as a means to streamline exchange transactions, thus enabling economic organizations to operate more efficiently. Examples are given of MIS, data base and office automation systems, where both the organization and its information system were jointly designed. These examples illustrate the power of the approach, which is based on recent research in the new institutional economics.

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Office Technology and People, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0167-5710

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1998

Claudio U. Ciborra and Ole Hanseth

The recent managerial literature on the development of corporate infrastructures to deliver sophisticated and flexible IT capabilities is based on a set of assumptions…

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2125

Abstract

The recent managerial literature on the development of corporate infrastructures to deliver sophisticated and flexible IT capabilities is based on a set of assumptions concerning the role of management in strategy formulation, planning and control; the role of IT as a tool; the linkages between infrastructure and business processes; the implementation process. This paper deconstructs such assumptions by gradually enriching the conventional management agenda with new priorities stemming from other styles of taking care of infrastructures. The original, straightforward management agenda appears to be lacking: its foundations are irremediably shaken. The paper finally evokes a philosophy‐based agenda, the only one valuable in the uncharted territory where the usual foundations do not deliver any longer. Such an agenda speaks a language of weak agency: releasement; dwelling with mystery; capacity to drop the tools; valuing marginal practices. Will the last agenda play a key role in coping with the information infrastructures of the next millennium?

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Information Technology & People, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2007

Jonathan Ezer and Dionysios S. Demetis

The aim of this paper is to argue that the need for strategy is overstated and that organizations should celebrate short‐term thinking.

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2328

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to argue that the need for strategy is overstated and that organizations should celebrate short‐term thinking.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a case study of a medium‐sized software company in Canada, followed by an analysis in terms of the history of strategy and Ciborra's work on organizational change.

Findings

The study finds that strategy and structure are taken‐for‐granted assumptions that are not always appropriate. While strategy is important for contemporary business, it has overstepped its relevance and has been become the dominant organizing myth of modern management. Such a myth has become an obsession that quite often constrains the variety of organizational responses. The notion of strategy has become an “iron cage” which constrains manoeuvrability.

Practical implications

Short‐term thinking has tremendous benefits and should be embraced.

Originality/value

The paper provides a useful insight into the benefits of short‐term thinking.

Details

Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0275-6668

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Article
Publication date: 31 August 2021

Laura Maftei and Chris Harty

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the use of immersive virtual reality (IVR) impacts on the surprise aspects of designing.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the use of immersive virtual reality (IVR) impacts on the surprise aspects of designing.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical case is a new hospital in the UK wherein a CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) type of an IVR environment was used performing six design review sessions during the bid preparation stage. Drawing from a former video-based study, the authors conducted follow-up discussions with the participants to access their perspectives on design surprises emerging from their engagement with the IVR. The study developed a reflective methodology, interviewing participants about their experiences of doing design in the immersive environment. Retrospective discussions were conducted in a data review format, through playing back video clips of the IVR design sessions and asking the participants to reflect on their IVR design experience and on design surprises emerging from their engagement with the IVR.

Findings

The findings indicate that IVRs, such as the CAVE, are not only enhancing existing understandings of design but also challenging the participants' understanding of the design as they experience the immersive version of it, provoking ruptures in current procedures and driving unanticipated changes to the design.

Originality/value

This qualitative study of surprise in design work using IVRs (for a real-life design project) brings new insights into emerging practices of designing using immersive technology, such as the CAVE.

Details

Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2631-6862

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2002

Brian O’Donovan and Dewald Roode

The debate about the emerging discipline of IS has been continuing at least since Banville and Landry questioned the possibility of “disciplining” MIS in 1989. Recent…

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1241

Abstract

The debate about the emerging discipline of IS has been continuing at least since Banville and Landry questioned the possibility of “disciplining” MIS in 1989. Recent papers such as those in the book by Mingers and Stowell introduce fresh viewpoints and reopen the discussion along a new frontier. It would appear that an ontological framework to define a discipline could assist in making sense of what it is that information systems are all about. To this end, we develop a framework which derives from Heidegger’s concept of a regional ontology informed by the fundamental ontology of Dasein. This framework draws from Heidegger’s work and contends that a discipline also has Dasein’s kind of being. Following Heidegger, we arrive at a static model of a discipline in which the two constitutive parts are the cultural structure and the context of significance. A discipline is a totality, which emerges from and integrates these two components which are simultaneously irreducible to one another, and nonseparable in the whole. We then utilise Heidegger’s four ways of being, to show how change in a discipline can be incorporated in the framework. Finally, we reflect on how the framework could contribute towards the understanding of the discipline of information systems.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 23 August 2011

Rodrigo Martín‐Rojas, Víctor J. García‐Morales and Encarnación García‐Sánchez

The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of different technological aspects of organizations on Spanish high‐technology firms' performance.

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2850

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of different technological aspects of organizations on Spanish high‐technology firms' performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The relationships studied are confirmed empirically using a structural equation model to demonstrate our hypotheses. The sample was selected from the database “Dun & Bradstreet España” in the year 2005 and includes 201 Spanish firms. CEOs were our main informants.

Findings

The results obtained show that support from top managers will directly influence the organizational learning (OL) process and technological distinctive competencies (TDCs) (antecedents of corporate entrepreneurship) and that corporate entrepreneurship finally influences organizational performance.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is exploratory in character, and its goal is to show whether interrelations exist between the variables. The main limitations are: the sectors chosen refer only to Spain; the analysis is cross‐sectional in character; the study uses a single method and self‐reports (CEOs).

Practical implications

To obtain perfect adaptation of the firm to its environment, it is crucial that managers develop corporate entrepreneurship to improve high‐technology sector firms' performance. The paper shows the important role of the top manager's support in developing TDCs and OL. Success in such issues is of vital importance to corporate entrepreneurship in the firm.

Originality/value

The paper seeks to stimulate new lines of research on one variable (TDCs) and to relate it to other constructs, producing new relationships and observing their repercussions for the firm.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 111 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

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