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The literature about the development of information systems tends to concentrate on methodologies, techniques and tools. There is significant published research about the…
The literature about the development of information systems tends to concentrate on methodologies, techniques and tools. There is significant published research about the potential negative aspects of using methodologies and tools (along with that discussing their potential benefits). Techniques, on the other hand, are seen largely as benign, very often as simple aids to help carry out a task, and are used in many methodologies. They might be seen as supporting the collection, collation, analysis, representation or communication of information about system requirements and attributes (or a combination of these). However, it is argued in this paper that techniques also have negative aspects and there are as many dangers in their use as in using methodologies and tools. In particular, techniques may restrict understanding by framing the ways of thinking about the problem situation. In other words, people’s understanding of a problem can be profoundly influenced by how the problem is presented to them by the technique. Different development techniques can represent the same problem situation differently, and the way in which it is represented has considerable potential for influencing problem understanding and resultant decision making. Drawing on the cognitive psychology literature enables one to show how specific visual and linguistic characteristics of techniques may influence problem understanding. In addition, examining the taken‐for‐granted paradigm of a particular technique provides a further dimension influencing problem understanding. This knowledge of visual/language and paradigm attributes is applied to over 80 techniques used to a greater or lesser extent in IS development, indicating how different types of technique are likely to influence problem cognition. This serves two purposes. First, it exposes potential biases of a particular technique and makes users aware of the potential dangers. Second, the overall categorization may provide guidance to users in selecting appropriate techniques and combinations of techniques to help reduce any negative framing influences, provide a more holistic view of a problem situation and support a more appropriate problem‐learning environment.
Considers the potential role of anthropology as a source disciplinefor information systems. Although anthropology has been largelyneglected in the IS research literature…
Considers the potential role of anthropology as a source discipline for information systems. Although anthropology has been largely neglected in the IS research literature, it is argued that important insights can be gained by adopting an anthropological perspective on information systems phenomena. Illustrates the value of an anthropological perspective by looking at the relationship between information technology and organizational culture. Shows that the concept of culture has generally been used rather narrowly in the IS literature, and argues that a more critical, anthropological view of the relationship between IT and organizational culture is required.
Action research (AR), which emphasises collaboration between researchers and practitioners, is a qualitative research method that has much potential for the information…
Action research (AR), which emphasises collaboration between researchers and practitioners, is a qualitative research method that has much potential for the information systems (IS) field. AR studies of IS phenomena are now beginning to be published in the IS research literature. However, the rigour of many AR studies in IS can be improved. When AR has been published, the findings have frequently been emphasised at the expense of the process. In this article, we look at the process in AR projects, and look at some of the key choices and alternatives in controlling AR. We discuss three aspects of control: the procedures for initiating an AR project, those for determining authority within the project, and the degree of formalisation. We analyse seven recent AR projects in IS and from this analysis distil recommendations for determining these control structures.
This paper describes the findings of a field study that explores the process of information systems (IS) development in a large organization. The paper argues that…
This paper describes the findings of a field study that explores the process of information systems (IS) development in a large organization. The paper argues that traditional IS development methodologies are treated primarily as a necessary fiction to present an image of control or to provide a symbolic status, and are too mechanistic to be of much use in the detailed, day‐to‐day organization of systems developers’ activities. By drawing on the insights gained from this study, the paper outlines some implications for IS development methodologies. A secondary purpose of the paper is to illustrate the use of an “ecological” research approach to IS development as advocated by Shneiderman and Carroll.
Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of aligning information systems with organizational processes, goals and strategies. One way of…
Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of aligning information systems with organizational processes, goals and strategies. One way of representing and analysing strategic alignment is through the creation of a causal‐loop diagram, a subject which this paper seeks to examine.
The exploratory research presented here involved six senior IS/IT managers during three two‐hour focus group sessions, which led to the development of such a diagram. The focus group sessions were recorded, transcribed and analysed using content analysis.
The diagram presents a systemic view of IS/business alignment within organizations, as seen through the lens of these practitioners. The research suggests that, although practitioners understand that a high level of connection between IS and business planning processes may be dependent on the level of integration between the IS group and other sections of the organization, they are still unable to develop the necessary relationships. It appears that the culture of many organizations is impeding the development of this integration.
The research method and technique allowed a systemic view of IS/business alignment within a typical organization. It highlights the inter‐relationship between the social and intellectual dimensions of alignment and shows that these should not be studied in isolation. In particular, the research highlights the inter‐relationship between the social and intellectual dimensions of alignment.
E‐Teaching as the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education is of growing importance for educational theory and practice. Many universities and…
E‐Teaching as the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education is of growing importance for educational theory and practice. Many universities and other higher education institutions use ICT to support teaching. However, there are contradicting opinions about the value and outcome of e‐teaching. This paper starts with a review of the literature on e‐teaching and uses this as a basis for distilling success factors for e‐teaching. It then discusses the case study of an e‐voting system used for giving student feedback and marking student presentations. The case study is critically discussed in the light of the success factors developed earlier. The conclusion is that e‐teaching, in order to be successful, should be embedded in the organisational and individual teaching philosophy.
This paper is intended to pay tribute to the inspiration provided by Rob Kling by showing how his ideas about social informatics in general and the use of web models in…
This paper is intended to pay tribute to the inspiration provided by Rob Kling by showing how his ideas about social informatics in general and the use of web models in particular, have helped us to formulate and develop our own work in the field of information systems development methods.
A conceptual discussion and approach are taken.
Illustrates how Kling's advocacy of the need for a more holistic form of explanation of the behaviour of what he (and Walt Scacchi) termed “computer resources” gave shape to ideas emerging from others' action research studies at that time, and how his attempts to set the agenda for the emerging field of Social Informatics have informed subsequent developments in work in the area of methodological inquiry.
Provides an evaluation of Kling's pioneering and inspirational work on information and communication technologies.