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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Nima Herman Shidende, Margunn Aanestad and Faraja Igira

This paper presents a work-centred study of how information systems practices and tools become shaped by their context. The purpose of this paper is to increase the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents a work-centred study of how information systems practices and tools become shaped by their context. The purpose of this paper is to increase the understanding of how practices and tools co-evolve, with a specific focus on the role of context, and based on this to offer relevant design implications. The empirical motivation comes from attempts to utilize information and communication technologies (ICT) in resource-constrained settings.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical work was conducted in primary healthcare facilities in Tanzania that offer Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission services. Four health facilities with different organizational and socio-economic characteristics were studied using ethnographic methods (participant observation, interviews and document analysis). The authors have employed activity theory as the theoretical framework, since it explicitly places human activity within a cultural, social and temporal (developmental) context. Specifically, the concept of mediation breakdown was used for data analysis at activity, action and operation levels.

Findings

By focussing analytically on situations of mediation breakdown in the situation of use, at both an activity, action and operation level, the authors have achieved an understanding of how information tools are being adapted to both their contextual conditions and the information needs of the community of users.

Research limitations/implications

The study illustrates the decisive role that context may play in shaping the actual usage of information technology. While the detailed findings were specific to the concrete domain, time and place, in general, an increased awareness of the role of context may lead to more robust approaches to the introduction of ICT solutions.

Originality/value

While activity theory literature offers insight on how to analyse context, the discussion is limited to the understanding of how context can be modelled into artefacts. The paper suggests that the contradiction concept is useful for studying the role of context and its impact in co-evolution of work and information tools. The study also contributes to the discourse in health information systems in developing countries by emphasizing the crucial role of the front line health workers’ own problem solving, invention and adaptation of information tools.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Ole Hanseth, Margunn Aanestad and Marc Berg

In this editorial introduction Allen Lee's definition of the information systems (IS) field is taken as the starting point: “Research in the information systems field…

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Abstract

In this editorial introduction Allen Lee's definition of the information systems (IS) field is taken as the starting point: “Research in the information systems field examines more than just the technological system, or just the social system, or even the two systems side by side; in addition, it investigates the phenomena that emerge when the two interact” (Lee, A. “Editorial”, MISQ, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2001, p. iii). By emphasizing the last part of this, it is argued that actor‐network theory (ANT) can provide IS research with unique and very powerful tools to help us overcome the current poor understanding of the information technology (IT) artifact (Orlikowski, W. and Iacono, S., “Research commentary: desperately seeking the ‘IT’ in IT research – a call for theorizing the IT artifact”, Information Systems Research, Vol. 10 No. 2, 2001, pp. 121‐34). These tools include a broad range of concepts describing the interwoven relationships between the social.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 October 2006

Bjørn Erik Mørk, Thomas Hoholm and Margunn Aanestad

The purpose of this paper is to describe the knowledge generation in a cross‐disciplinary group in Norway that developed a new medical device. The aim is to shed light on…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the knowledge generation in a cross‐disciplinary group in Norway that developed a new medical device. The aim is to shed light on how knowledge was generated and how the relationships between different communities of practice were mediated. In particular, the paper seeks to examine how material objects and contextual conditions influenced the innovation process.

Design/methodology/approach

In this longitudinal case study an innovation process was followed for five years, and the research material was constructed through extensive observations, interviews and document analysis.

Findings

The innovation process exhibited different themes in varying degrees of blend throughout the process. First, the practices of constructing the device and ascertaining technical feasibility are described. Then the enacted nature of the work is outlined; how it was significantly dependent on circumstantial factors, but also strongly shaped by the need to ensure clinical usability of the device. Finally, the work to package the innovation and turn it into a commercial product is explored.

Originality/value

In contrast with many previous studies, this study follows large parts of the innovation process, and it emphasises how knowing and practice are a result of networked, and changing, relations between both human and non‐human actors. Rather than one community of practice emerging around the innovation work, what can be called an object‐centred assemblage of communities of practice was seen, which grew and changed according to the changing nature of knowledge needs for the project to continue and succeed. This has interesting implications for the understanding of cross‐disciplinary innovation processes.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Thomas Hoholm

– The purpose of this paper is to develop the case for studying non-interaction in networks, particularly instances of intentional avoidance of interaction.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop the case for studying non-interaction in networks, particularly instances of intentional avoidance of interaction.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on the analysis of instances of interaction avoidance across four case studies in medical technology development, food product development, food distribution network change, and regional innovation in construction.

Findings

Some answers are provided to the questions of why and how actors may seek to avoid interaction. Five modes of interaction avoidance are identified and outlined. Within these modes, interaction avoidance took place in order to protect knowledge, enforce progress, economise in business networks, avoid wasting resources, and maintain opportunities respectively. This list is not seen to be exhaustive of the theme, and further studies are encouraged.

Originality/value

Few inter-organisational network studies have dealt explicitly with interaction avoidance or non-interaction.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 25 April 2008

A.J. Masys

The purpose of this article is to reveal the reasons for pilot error. Surveys in aviation have attributed 70 percent of incidents to crew error, citing pilot error as the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to reveal the reasons for pilot error. Surveys in aviation have attributed 70 percent of incidents to crew error, citing pilot error as the root cause of an aviation accident.

Design/methodology/approach

Uses ANT, a theoretical perspective, that has evolved to address the socio‐technical domain and in so doing reveals the “social” as defined by Latour. This perspective challenges the way that agency, the human and non‐human are conceptualised. In this work, complexity theory is used as an integrating concept to complement ANT thereby providing an explanatory framework (with particular emphasis on interrelationship) that enhances understanding regarding the accident aetiology of complex systems and the “social”.

Findings

The hegemony of “pilot error” is dispelled revealing a de‐centered causality that is resident within a network space “worldview”.

Practical implications

The network space “worldview” reflects the nonlinearity and complexity inherent within accident aetiology involving complex socio‐technical systems. It reveals how politics and power “inscripted” within the network actors interrelate, and in particular shape situation awareness challenging the hegemony of “blamism” that is associated with “pilot error”.

Originality/value

The paper moves beyond a Newtonian‐Cartesian worldview of accident aetiology to embrace a “relativistic” perspective characterized by nonlinear dynamics, emergent properties and complex interrelationships.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

Keywords

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