Haldor Byrkeflot and Karsten Vrangbaek
The debate on accountability within the public sector has been lively in the past decade. Significant progress has been made in developing conceptual frameworks and typologies for characterizing different features and functions of accountability. However, there is a lack of sector specific adjustment of such frameworks. In this chapter we present a framework for analyzing accountability within health care. The chapter makes use of the concept of “accountability regime” to signify the combination of different accountability forms, directions and functions at any given point in time. We show that reforms can introduce new forms of accountability, change existing accountability relations or change the relative importance of different accountability forms. They may also change the dominant direction and shift the balance between different functions of accountability. The chapter further suggests that developments in accountability regimes are best analyzed with a combination of top-down and bottom up perspectives and that there is a need to develop research strategies to support this aim.
Vocational education and training has emerged from traditional industry and technical training into a vigorous post-compulsory education sector focused on satisfying the ever-changing demands of today’s employers. This chapter considers issues around the accreditation and regulation of providers and the assessment and certification of outcomes. Quality and comparability of outcomes has been a common concern for regulatory regimes. The front-end emphasis of training assessors and the requirement for workplace assessment contexts is designed to align with employer needs. However there are legitimate concerns about the consistency of judgments. Competency based assessment (CBA) has been the dominant assessment model and contrasts with the traditional assessment approach in general education. However the more recent standards-referenced assessment movement in the latter sector suggests ways in which assessment approaches are converging. Employability and 21st century skills reinforce the interest in developing generic skills in all sectors of education.
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.
This chapter highlights the most significant ways in which research from across Internet Studies combines thematically to offer a picture of the challenges facing freedom of expression in the twenty-first century, as well as the need for broader theoretical frameworks. It suggests that a broader theoretical framework is required to catch the full range of law and policies shaping expression online, and to develop responses for policy and practice. The Internet presents just as many opportunities for digital surveillance or censorship as it does for free expression. The most helpful contribution of Internet Studies has been to expose and illuminate the many different forces that restrict or expand the opportunities to speak and communicate. The Internet has become central to communication and it plays a role in helping multiple actors to obtain their various goals.
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.
Carliss Y. Baldwin
How do firms create and capture value in large technical systems? In this paper, I argue that the points of both value creation and value capture are the system’s bottlenecks. Bottlenecks arise first as important technical problems to be solved. Once the problem is solved, Then the solution in combination with organizational boundaries and property rights can be used to capture a stream of rents. The tools a firm can use to manage bottlenecks are, first, an understanding first of the technical architecture of the system; and, second, an understanding of the industry architecture in which the technical system is embedded. Although these tools involve disparate bodies of knowledge, they must be used in tandem to achieve maximum effect. Dynamic architectural capabilities provide managers with the ability to see a complex technical system in an abstract way and change the system’s structure to manage bottlenecks and modules in conjunction with the firm’s organizational boundaries and property rights.
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 attempts to map the depth and importance of the problems at issue: first, through a review of digital divide debates at a time (2005) when in policy circles they are no longer in fashion; secondly by linking this to recent debates in political sociology and media sociology about, respectively, the declining prospects for political engagement, and the public uses of people's media consumption; and finally by reviewing competing theoretical formulations of the communicative preconditions of democracy. It suggests that all citizens require a share of a society's communicative resources if they are to participate effectively in the democratic process, and considers what form such resources should take. Arguing that ‘digital divide’ debates have pushed this issue to the centre of policy discussions the article assesses what policies might be needed to achieve improved distributive equity with respect to these resources. It provides an insight into how the communicative preconditions of democracy might be understood in the light of the growing use of ICTs.
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.
Gustavo Cardozo, Guo Liang, and Tiago Lapa
This chapter reviews the diffusion, uses, and impacts of the Internet worldwide and over time. The World Internet Project has been intended to become the vehicle for tracking what happens as households and nations adopt and use the Internet. The study of the connection between the Internet and society presents a window onto contemporary societies. The Internet mediates social changes and social relations. The age of users, the institutional context, and media culture determine the Internet use in a given country. The Internet has been more of a complement to the traditional media than a competitor, and displacement effects are hard to find and are not general or universal across countries. It is important to keep a vital perspective in comparative approaches, being mindful of the theory that differences verified between countries or continenta can lose much of their analytical relevance.
As sources of legitimation for the assignment of social status, education and training systems are more strongly rooted in particular national traditions than other social institutions. Most typologies of national skill systems focus on the differences in general and vocational education in upper secondary school. However, with increasing investment in preschool education, the expansion of university education and the growing importance of education and training for adults, comparative researchers are paying increasing attention to the education and training system as a whole, with the result that country typologies are necessarily becoming more complex. The chapter shows that we must bid farewell to the myth that the sole objective of education and training reforms is to increase economic efficiency. In modern democracies, reforms of education and training systems are often characterised by conflicts between the protection of status, on the one hand, and increasing equality, on the other.
Eszter Hargittai and Yuli Patrick Hsieh
This chapter investigates the research on inequalities in society, and also considers the digital inequality beyond overly simplistic conceptions of access to technologies. Additionally, it describes how people's background characteristics relate to their web-use skills and what they do online. The social implications of differentiated Internet uses are covered. The theoretical perspectives presented point out various forms of inequality associated with information and communications technology (ICT) uses, and explore both the causes and consequences of digital inequalities from various research fields and traditions. It is noted that skills are not randomly distributed across the population, and that the social context of use refers to how people integrate digital media into their lives. Different types of online activities may have divergent implications for varying aspects of social capital. There are three possible outcomes of widespread digital media uses when it comes to social inequality.
Eric T. Meyer and Ralph Schroeder
This chapter examines how the Internet is transforming academic research in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The question of changes in knowledge is one that science and technology should be well equipped to answer. The chapter also offers examples that show the range of e-Research. E-Research needs novel tools, and organisational structures as well as researchers should change their everyday practices. VOSON can be seen as part of a burgeoning engagement in e-Social Science. The e-Research component has the advantage of enhanced visibility. The sociology of science and technology does not have the conceptual tools to simultaneously deal with how research communities are oriented to shared objects, how this impacts various styles of science and knowledge, and how scholarly practices are therefore being transformed.
Paul M. Hirsch and Daniel A. Gruber
During the 20th century, the creation and distribution of popular culture became increasingly centralized by a small number of mega-media companies, which came to control not only national but global markets. This chapter traces the transformation and revision of this model for the production and dissemination of popular fads and fashions. We show how the advent of inexpensive and accessible digital technologies has enabled creators to produce and circulate cultural products at lower cost and much more widely. This more bottom-up model of culture production has impacted the domination of mega-media, providing local and regional artists greater exposure and engagement with new fans and audiences. The downloading of music and e-books, and streaming of video content altered and disrupted the ‘traditional’ ways of these industries. Their slow response and resistance, in turn, facilitated the rise of new web-based competitors and frameworks that better link artist and audience. Our portrait of how these mechanisms have changed is considered within the framework of Hirsch’s initial analysis and continued tracking of cultural industries’ operation. This update takes further account of how wider gatekeeping and the disintermediation of earlier pathways were enabled by new technologies and corporations. These, in turn, created new forms of web-based distribution and narrowed the number of ‘go to’ sites, thereby recentralizing and re-intermediating control over this segment of the cultural industry system.
Information systems in developing countries (ISDC) research tends to focus on the development and implementation of information technology applications and the organizational changes associated with them. This article refers this object of study of ISDC research, as ‘IS innovation’ to convey the notion of novelty of experiences of IS implementation and the associated changes within the organization. This article presents two perspectives regarding the nature of the IS innovation process: as transfer and diffusion and as socially embedded action and draws relevant examples from the literature on IS implementation to demonstrate them. It then discusses the four discourses formed with examples from the literature on software industries in developing countries. Finally, it argues for the need to develop theoretical capabilities for studying IS innovation in relation to socio-economic contexts and to increase awareness and use of socio-economic development theory.
The post-Athenian democratic relationship, in which political representatives speak for the absent demos and media gatekeepers translate between the intimate sphere of individualized experience and the impersonal, public sphere in which strangers must live together as citizens, is blighted by inevitable problems of miscommunication. Political representatives are accused of being ‘out of touch’ and not listening to the public. The media are blamed for being simplistic, cynical, and sensationalist. The public are depicted as lacking the attentiveness, political literacy, and moral energy required of active citizens. There is a powerful desire for more effective communicative structures, techniques, and technologies that can facilitate the free spread of information and unrestricted communication between citizens. The purpose of this article is to explore ways in which, theoretically and empirically, new digital media technologies can support the norms and practices of democratic political communication.
Every activity of a public administration has an informational and a communicative aspect. Therefore, it may be expected that the institutionalization of electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs) in public administration would have a fundamental impact on the way in which public administration functions. Although this basic assumption is generally adhered to, it is not uncontested. This article first presents the shifts in management attention during the early phases of ICT use within public administration. Second, some theoretical approaches to informatization are discussed. Third, the dominant focus of public managers on effectiveness, efficiency, and economy as the main purpose of the use of ICTs in the implementation of policies are highlighted. Fourth, the growing emphasis on service delivery with ICTs are commented upon. Fifth, the democratic possibilities of ICT applications are discussed. Finally, the main strategic challenges of e-Government for public management, in terms of the technical, organizational and institutional barriers that will have to be surmounted, are demonstrated.
W. Edward Steinmueller
The exploitation of technological and market opportunities in the ICT industries has produced a series of changes in both supply and demand that serve to regulate or channel the rate and direction of industrial growth. The focus of this article is on the micro or building block level, where the programme of economic research has been directed by the goal of explaining the origins and consequences of rapid technological change and cost reduction. By focusing on this level, it is possible to illuminate some of the underlying processes influencing industrial structure and to suggest consequences for policy aimed at promotion of industrial growth and success. The central theme of this article is that the micro foundations or building blocks of supply and demand shape industrial structure and performance as well as influencing the opportunities and limits for government policy (including policies aimed both at promoting industrial growth and regulating economic concentration).
The chapter begins with an introduction of the basic Mincer, Shultz and Becker human capital model. Section 2 discusses two theories that question the model’s link between education and labour market skills. The first theory argues that the education is a device to signal to potential employers that the individual has high natural abilities that are unobservable to the employer while the second argues that education sorts workers into different labour markets that are segmented by wider socio-economic forces. Section 3 considers two more recent developments. The first involves sequential analysis in which the decision-maker learns more about his or her abilities and opportunities as a result of participating in education or training, while the second uses a ‘skill ecosystem’ metaphor to express how educational institutions, students, employers and policy makers can combine to sustain a high-skills, high-wage equilibrium or reinforce a low-skills, low-wage equilibrium.