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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2007

Lars Rönnbäck, Jonny Holmström and Ole Hanseth

This paper seeks to identify and explore critical challenges for the process industry in information technology (IT) infrastructure integration and adaptation.

1644

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to identify and explore critical challenges for the process industry in information technology (IT) infrastructure integration and adaptation.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory case study was conducted at a paper mill and their main IT‐vendor. Using a qualitative approach eight semi‐structured interviews were carried out with representatives from both organizations.

Findings

The paper identifies four critical challenges in the integration and adaptation of IT‐infrastructure in the process industry: integration as an ongoing process; maintaining stability in the installed base; locking the right stuff in; and balancing user value, continuity of production and compatibility.

Practical implications

Given the centrality of IT infrastructure in today's process industries, the importance of dealing with these challenges must be emphasized. The four challenges identified in this study are of such a complexity that they can only lend themselves to the evolutionary strategy. Such a strategy is in concert with the sensibility towards risk found in the paper industry.

Originality/value

This paper contributes by building on and expanding IT‐infrastructure literature, as a result of exploring IT‐adaptation challenges in process industry organizations. The findings also provide managers with a valuable insight into recognizing and handling these challenges.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 107 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Bongsug Chae and Giovan Francesco Lanzara

Seeks to raise the question of why large‐scale technochange is difficult and often failure‐prone and to attempt to answer this question by viewing technochange as an…

1541

Abstract

Purpose

Seeks to raise the question of why large‐scale technochange is difficult and often failure‐prone and to attempt to answer this question by viewing technochange as an instance of institutional change and design in which self‐destructive mechanisms are inherently embedded.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to explore the complex institutional dynamics of large‐scale technochange the paper uses the exploration/exploitation framework originally developed by March and extended by Lanzara to the study of institution‐building processes in the political domain. The argument is that problems in implementing large‐scale technochange stem from learning dilemmas in the inter‐temporal and inter‐group allocation of material and cognitive resources. The paper uses a case of large‐scale technology in a major US university system to illustrate the institutional perspective on technochange.

Findings

It is argued and illustrated that the development and redesign of large‐scale information systems involve both the exploration of alternative institutional arrangements and the exploitation of pre‐existing ones, such that a delicate balance must be struck to overcome incoherences and dilemmas between the two activities.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed framework to understand large‐scale technochange is not examined empirically. The illustration of the framework relies on a single large‐scale system project of a non‐profit organization in the USA. Further empirical work and comparative research on multiple cases are needed.

Practical implications

The paper discusses some sources of the failures of large‐scale technochange and offers three interrelated mechanisms to counteract such failure sources, namely focal points, increasing returns, and bricolage. These counteracting mechanisms may help organizations to effectively deal with the dilemmas of exploration and exploitation in technochange.

Originality/value

This paper fills the gap in understanding the nature of large‐scale technochange, providing an explanation of why it is difficult and failure‐prone and offering some modest proposals for intervention in large‐scale system projects.

Details

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

Keywords

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…

2167

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?

Details

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

Keywords

Content available
449

Abstract

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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…

3809

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.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Edoardo Jacucci, Ole Hanseth and Kalle Lyytinen

To give an overview of the papers contained in this Special Issue.

1699

Abstract

Purpose

To give an overview of the papers contained in this Special Issue.

Design/methodology/approach

Looks at how each of the papers reflects the theme of the Special Issue, “Complexity and IT design and evolution”.

Findings

The collection of papers in this Special Issue addresses complexity, drawing on multi‐faceted, multi‐theoretical lines of inquiry.

Originality/value

Frameworks from complexity science, institutional theory, social science, philosophy, and recent thinking in science and technology studies (STS) are used as theoretical lenses to conceptualize and analyze complexity in IS and to offer ways to mitigate it.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 19 no. 1
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…

5264

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 January 2006

Richard M. Kim and Simon M. Kaplan

This paper seeks to understand how software systems and organisations co‐evolve in practice during an IS engagement. Seeks also to argue that complex adaptive system…

2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to understand how software systems and organisations co‐evolve in practice during an IS engagement. Seeks also to argue that complex adaptive system theory (CAS) provides an excellent lens to study the motor of co‐evolution due to its ability to frame the strategies and reinforcement models of actors and to illustrate this by recounting four narratives of the interaction, selection and adaptation of actors arising from a longitudinal case study of an IS engagement. Then sets out to consider how the complexity of the engagement emerges from the interrelationship of these narratives and how the adaptive behaviour of the various actors is both a response to and a driver of co‐evolution within the engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

An interpretive case study was undertaken to examine the implementation of a novel academic scheduling and resource allocation system at a research‐intensive Australian university. The research was conducted over ten months, employing ethnographic methods and semi‐structured interviews. This analysis is conducted within the theoretical framework of CAS.

Findings

By analysing this case study it is demonstrated how CAS can help designers and managers of IS engagements conceptualise the attendant complexities that they encounter. It is also demonstrated how complexity within IS engagements emerges through the interactions and goal‐seeking behaviour of actors employing a variety of context‐bound strategies within neighbourhoods, and how the adaptive behaviour of the various actors is both a response to and a driver of co‐evolution within the engagement.

Originality/value

This work builds on Organization Science, Vol. 10 Nos 3 and 5, by applying CAS theory to organisational and IS research on co‐evolution, where the findings are grounded in a longitudinal case study and not computational models.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Ingunn Moser and John Law

Seeks to explore the assumptions and limitations of current programmes for the creation of electronic patient records by comparing ICT programme statements with hospital…

2053

Abstract

Purpose

Seeks to explore the assumptions and limitations of current programmes for the creation of electronic patient records by comparing ICT programme statements with hospital uses of information.

Design/methodology/approach

Compares qualitative data from medical ICT programmes statements with data from ethnographic studies of hospital decision making. Uses actor‐network theory to develop a performative definition of information as that which secures a decision or “qualculation”, whether in the form of calculation or judgement.

Findings

Shows that decision making depends on a mix of formal and informal considerations that are, however, always restricted in scope and number. Shows that some of these are locally and organisationally contingent.

Research limitations/implications

The ethnographic findings illustrate the character of information rather than offering data about the character of decisions in different clinical locations.

Practical implications

Caution is needed in the face of claims about ICT programmes in health care. It is possible to anticipate neither all the uses of information nor what will count as information in advance.

Originality/value

The paper develops a performative definition of information. This is whatever secures a decision in practice. Information thus reflects a situated process of simplification and bounding of relevancies. This suggests that information not only flows (which is assumed in ICT programme statements) but also is fluid, unpredictably changing its form and character. This claim is relevant both to the design and use of ICT in health care and to the theory of information.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Hind Benbya and Bill McKelvey

Existing literature acknowledges information systems development (ISD) to be a complex activity. This complexity is magnified by the continuous changes in user…

5647

Abstract

Purpose

Existing literature acknowledges information systems development (ISD) to be a complex activity. This complexity is magnified by the continuous changes in user requirements due to changing organizational needs in changing external competitive environments. Research findings show that, if this increasing complexity is not managed appropriately, information systems fail. The paper thus aims to portray the sources of complexity related to ISD and to suggest the use of complexity theory as a frame of reference, analyzing its implications on information system design and development to deal with the emergent nature of IS.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptual analysis and review of relevant literature.

Findings

This article provides a conceptual model explaining how top‐down “official” and bottom‐up “emergent” co‐evolutionary adaptations of information systems design with changing user requirements will result in more effective system design and operation. At the heart of this model are seven first principles of adaptive success drawn from foundational biological and social science theory: adaptive tension, requisite complexity, change rate, modular design, positive feedback, causal intricacy, and coordination rhythm. These principles, translated into the ISD context, outline how IS professionals can use them to better enable the co‐evolutionary adaptation of ISD projects to changing stakeholder interests and broader environmental changes.

Originality/value

This paper considers and recognizes the different sources of complexity related to ISD before suggesting how they could be better dealt with. It develops a framework for change to deal with the emergent nature of ISD and enable more expeditious co‐evolutionary adaptation.

Details

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

Keywords

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