The focus of this article is upon producing actionable knowledge. Propositions that are actionable are those that actors can use to implement effectively their intentions. Actionable knowledge requires propositions that make explicit the causal processes required to produce action. Causality is the key in implementation. One of the most powerful inhibitors of effective action is inner contradictions. Inner contradictions exist when the propositions to act are implemented correctly. One cause of inner contradiction is the methodologies used by most normal social scientists to discover problems and to invent solutions. These features cause the degree of seamlessness and the validity of the implementation to be reduced. The focus on describing reality in ways that satisfies the requirements of internal and external validity makes it less likely that attention is paid to the implementable validity of the propositions. This, in turn, leads to propositions that are abstract and disconnected from implementable action.
Terri L. Griffith, Gregory B. Northcraft, and Mark A. Fuller
Data warehousing and the development of the World Wide Web both augment information gathering (search) processes in individual decision making by increasing the availability of required information. Imagine, for example, that one wanted to buy new golf clubs. Thirty years ago, the cost of information gathering would likely have limited an individual's search process to geographically proximal vendors and the golf clubs they stocked. Today, a prospective purchaser can log onto the World Wide Web to find out what types of golf clubs are available anywhere; consult databases, chat rooms, and bulletin boards (e.g., epinions.com) to gather product information and user opinions; and compare prices across vendors around the world.
Changing the Story Surrounding Enterprise Systems to Improve our Understanding of What Makes ERP Work in Organizations
Erica Wagner and Sue Newell
This article turns our attention to enterprise systems (ES). It shows that this competitiveness can be gained through enabling leaner production as a result of streamlining work flow with a view to increase productivity, reducing costs, and improving decision quality and resource control. It notes that this perceived ability to streamline and integrate business operations lead to enterprise systems becoming the most popular business software of the twentieth century. This article sees an ES in terms of an iterative experience life cycle where phases of configuration/customization and implementation/use will alternate cyclically, gradually helping to exploit the functionality of the software. The practical implications of rethinking analysis are discussed. The findings indicate that customization to a system is sometimes necessary to achieving a working information system.
Rhett A. Brymer, Michael A. Hitt, and Mario Schijven
This article focuses on managerial, operative, and corporate cognition. It argues that ‘the transformation of knowledge into practice is mediated by the cognition of the firm's human capital (HC)’. The article posits a mutually constituting reciprocal relationship between knowledge and behaviour, the exchange being governed by cognition. It argues that managers are able to influence the firm's cognitive states even when these are path dependent and contextualized. Managers set the strategic balance between ‘learning’ and ‘using’, between ‘exploration’ and ‘exploitation’, creating effective alignment between the environment and internal activity systems through adjustments to cognition. The article cites empirical research showing a strong relationship between HC, as measured by education and experience, and firm performance. It also presumes that HC can arise at both individual and collective levels, enabling it to explore the relationship between individual and collective cognition and the value of the firm's HC.
This article presents an overview of the usage of critical theory in contemporary information system (IS) research and practice. It reviews the growing body of work on critical social information systems research (CSISR) to offer an in-depth understanding of the meaning and history of this tradition. The overview of characteristics and definitions of CSISR is supplemented by a discussion of dominant topics, questions of methodology, and theory. CSISR is characterized by the intention to change social reality and promote emancipation, which is a departure from other research approaches and traditions. The CSISR discourse is influenced by the philosophical writings of Habermas, particularly in the light of the ethical dimension of his work. It discusses problems of the approach and finishes with a critical reflection CSISR in general.
Employer-Led In-Work Training and Skill Formation: The Challenges of Multi-Varied and Contingent Phenomena
This chapter examines skill formation organized by employers in the workplace. Its starting point is that all types of work involve knowledge and skill and, therefore, all workplaces are potential learning environments. The chapter discusses developments in workplace learning theory as well as the international empirical evidence on employer attitudes to and investment in in-work training. Illustrations from case study research are provided. It argues that workplace learning is contingent on the level of interaction of individuals with the way work is organized and managed, the nature of the employment contract including reward and incentive structures, the level of discretion employees have to determine how they work, and the extent to which employees are involved in decision making. The chapter concludes with recommendations for policy and practice.
Leslie P. Willcocks and Eleni A. Lioliou
This article focuses on theoretical perspectives by looking at the contribution of Michel Foucault's work, which is seen as ‘unjustly neglected’ in the information system (IS) field. It assess Foucault's views of techne and technology and argues that IS could learn from a deeper Foucauldian genealogy. This article assumes a degree of familiarity with Foucault's main work, but not with its application to information and communications technology. It then critically evaluates and illustrates how this application can be used in the study of information and communication technology (ICTs) in IS, organization, management, and surveillance studies, and more recently by those studying governmentality, network society, techno-bodies, and cyberspace. It then illustrates Foucauldian perspectives, concepts, methods applied, results, and effective applications of Foucauldian perspectives on ICTs in IS, organization, management, and surveillance studies. The final section argues against the view that Foucault has become less relevant with moves to liquid modernity, network society and new forms of technology.
Eric Knight and Sotirios Paroutis
This chapter focuses on what it means to teach students to have an appreciation of paradox. Although scholars have long attended to the competing tensions facing leaders, a paradox lens suggests that tensions should be embraced rather than being a distraction that managers should minimize. A paradox lens has become increasingly important to studies on innovation, social entrepreneurship, and strategic management, yet the implications for pedagogy, and particularly management education, have been under-explored. This chapter examines the potential for conceptualizing paradox as a threshold concept in curriculum design and proposes how this approach can be achieved for students’ learning. Overall, we contribute to a richer understanding of paradoxical theory, and provider greater clarity regarding the ways educators can employ to advance the paradoxical capabilities of participants in management education courses.
Richard T. Watson, Pierre Berthon, and Leyland F. Pitt
This article take an expansive view of the field of management information system (MIS) and argues for a broadening of the field's traditional boundaries as the issues of the twenty-first century are confronted. Traditional foci associated with information systems within organizations as opposed to the information age constrain the research. The dominance of emergence in the landscape means that IS researchers need to widen their approaches to studying IS phenomena. First, the traditional focus is on corporate domains but now so much more happens in personal spaces and information systems are the fabric of everyday life. Second, technological change has made so many new sources of data available to study. This article concludes that issues or emergence and innovation are the very stuff of MIS as it attempts to address the many pressing issues of the twenty-first century — a century in which information and communication technologies will play an increasing and perceived role.
Lucas D. Introna
The purpose of this article is to introduce information system (IS) researchers to the field of hermeneutics. It begins by sketching out a brief history of hermeneutics. It highlights that hermeneutics, as the art or practice of interpretation, is an intellectual tradition. It further suggests that there are different views as to what is being ‘recovered’ in the process of interpretation. This article proceeds to propose that the development of hermeneutics can be characterized as a gradual expansion of the nature of the ‘text’ to be interpreted: from the notion of obscure (often religious) texts to seemingly obscure texts (such as art and music) to everyday life as a text; or from a methodology for interpreting obscure texts to an ontology of social life as fundamentally hermeneutic. This article closes with some conclusions and implications for IS researchers — both for their research practice and their objects of study.
Brian J. Loasby
This article focuses on the entrepreneurship literature – which implies rather than offers an articulate theory of the firm. It suggests that entrepreneurship, the firm, and human capital form a natural grouping because they have a common foundation. The article lays down several radical points. Neoclassical theory has neither a place nor a need for an entrepreneurial theory of the firm – or a theory of the entrepreneurial firm. It defines the firm as determined by external (market) forces – so is often labelled a theory of markets rather than of firms. Economic theory is not overly interested in firms, their internal arrangements, or even why they exist. Insofar as individuals are present in the analysis, standard explanations ‘all rely on a reallocation of decision rights to resolve some conflict of incentives, and when this has been achieved everyone acts independently’.
By the end of the twentieth century it was already clearly evident that the new leading ICT industries were firmly established as the leading sectors of the economy in the United States. Indeed, although they still accounted for a relatively small proportion of aggregate production and employment, their rate of growth was so high that they accounted for over half of total growth in the US economy in the 1990s, and gave rise to a huge financial bubble early in the next century. This article deals with the origins and definition of the paradigm concept; with the formation and collapse of the Bubble; and finally with a critique of some myths that have attended diffusion of The ICT Paradigm which were (and to some extent still are) the intellectual counterpart of the financial bubble.
This article first reviews some widespread claims that associate ICTs with patterns of interaction, work, and communication that are said to be conducive to the structural arrangement of the network. In so doing, it seeks to lay bare and occasionally question a few key assumptions on which these claims are predicated. It endeavours to develop an alternative explanation of networks that is closely associated with the contemporary growth dynamics of information and the technologies which sustain and give it momentum. A key element of these dynamics is manifested in the increasing decomposability and mobility of a growing number of operations and resources that can thus be lifted out of particular contexts, and transferred, reshuffled, and recombined, often on a global scale. The article concludes by positioning an appreciation of these claims within the nexus of institutional relationships associated with current developments, and evaluating them critically.
Kathleen M. Sutcliffe and Karl E. Weick
Individuals typically describe information overload as the situation of receiving too much information. Organizational scholars define overload as a state induced when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity or when information processing capabilities and the information loads encountered are mismatched. Perception plays a key role in overload as in this definition: overload is the “perceived inability to maintain a one to one relationship between input and output within a realizable future with an existing repertoire of practices and desires”. Prevailing treatments of overload posit that when a system (individual or organization) is no longer able to process information and becomes overloaded, primary and secondary symptoms are manifested.
This article aims to provide an overview of key themes and emergent issues in critical information systems (IS) research. This includes a diversity of research endeavours that are committed to challenging the current orthodoxy within IS theory and research. Common threads can be found that link critical IS researchers with CMS researchers: this could be expressed as denaturalization, anti-performativity and reflexivity or the role of insight, critique, and transformative redefinition within our research. However, the article differs slightly from the broader constitution of CMS with regard to the author's concern with technology. Critical IS research is opposed to technological determinism and instrumental rationality underlying systems development and seeks to challenge rather than justify technological imperatives as natural and/or unavoidable.
Matthew Jones and Wanda J. Orlikowski
Advancing the ongoing debates and accounting for these innovations in the relationship between technology and organizational change will require rich theoretical conceptualizations and new empirical insights. This article begins by briefly reviewing some key perspectives that have emerged in the information systems (IS) literature to account for the relationship between technology and organizational change. It then presents a short empirical account taken from a recent field study into the emergence of online news in the traditional newspaper industry since the mid-1990s. These data provide some grounded details about the nature and dynamics of technology-based organizational change. The article concludes by suggesting opportunities for further theoretical development in the IS research repertoire.
Leslie P. Willcocks, Mary C. Lacity, and Sara Cullen
The information technology outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services markets, together with more recent offshore variants, have been dynamically expanding revenues, capabilities, and associated rhetoric, in equal measure, for over a decade. Outsourcing makes up a substantial and rapidly rising part of expenditure across corporations and government agencies alike. According to one estimate, ITO global revenues exceeded $US200 bn per year at the end of 2005. For many organizations, outsourcing is well above the parapet in sheer expenditure terms. However, much of this increase has been happening incrementally, as a response to immediate market conditions and specific opportunities to cut costs, rather than through long-term strategic thinking. Moreover, despite the accumulated experience, learning has been painfully slow; there has been mixed success, and much conflicting advice.
Wendy L. Currie
This article provides an overview of institutional theory from the seminal papers of the 1970s to the more recent contributions, which consider institutional change and deinstitutionalization. Institutional theory also shows how macro-units of analysis, i.e. regulatory, legal, and policy frameworks, are also important in influencing and determining organizational and behavioural change. While institutional theory is concerned with stability and persistence, information technologies are often associated with rapid, and sometimes disruptive, societal and organizational changes. This article demonstrates the explicit and implicit points of disagreement among institutional theorists. It critically evaluates the theoretical and empirical strengths and weaknesses of this body of work, and caution against a tendency to simplify institutional concepts into one-dimensional constructs. Finally, it offers a research agenda for the IS field to embrace the institutional perspective and develop an institutional theory of IT.
Andrew Burton‐Jones and Alan Burton‐Jones
This article argues that while people and information systems (ISs) represent the two single largest areas of investment for many organizations and are increasingly interconnected resources, there has been very little research on the nature of their interdependencies and how these interdependencies affect their functioning and complementarity. It discusses how a better understanding of the dynamics of interdependencies between people and ISs can help researchers study organizations and help organizations improve the interoperation of their human and technological assets, and thus returns on investments in them. The article begins by reviewing the concept of capital and its application to people – human capital – and information systems: ISs capital. Next, it surveys past literature on interdependencies and recent literature relating to interdependencies between people and information systems. Based on the analysis, the article proposes an agenda for future research aiming to conceptualize interdependencies between people and ISs in a richer fashion.
It is difficult to understand the form, management, markets, and ultimately the services produced by PSFs without analysis of the characteristics of knowledge and learning in such organizations. This chapter highlights how three fundamental lines of research about PSFs are intimately related to the key characteristics of knowledge and learning in such organizations: (a) organizational form, management, and governance, (b) the roles and effects of knowledge networking via databases versus knowing in practice through communities, and (c) the jurisdiction of a firm and claims about exclusive rights over a market. These areas of research are all contested domains in terms of optimum modes of organizing and trajectories of change due to the ambiguous and heterogeneous nature of knowledge. The chapter frames key future research questions which relate primarily to the constant dynamics that define both the nature of knowledge in PSFs, and their influence on questions of organization and management.