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Informaction Systems Stewardship: Advancing utilisation of information technology in organisations
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Informatics.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Organisations depend on IT for successful completion of many organisational activities. A distinction can be made between organisations with an IT-dependency of type-1, where IT-artefacts perform earlier manual routines, and organisations with an IT-dependency of type-2, where organisations utilise already digital data to enable new or radically improved organisational processes. Recognition of IT-dependency indicates that the way IT-artefacts are related to organisations is important. Moreover, the ways in which such relations are subject to change have so far seldom been subject to research. Thus, the research question asked in this thesis is: How to sustain and further develop the ways IT-artefacts and activities become and continue as related in order to effectively support changed or new organisational activities?

Within informatics we have been preoccupied with studying design of IT-artefacts. I found a design perspective inadequate to grasp the complexity of how IT-artefacts become related to organisational activities. Thus, as a secondary research question I ask: How can IT-artefacts and organisational activities they are intended to support be perceived and understood as fundamentally related? The research questions have methodological implications. Since I could not find a theory giving the answer to my complementary research question, I made it my business to produce one. Methodologically speaking this thesis to a great extent concerns theory construction. In answering the secondary research question I suggests an object of study comprising IT-artefacts and organisational agents co-producing organisational actions; informaction systems. An embryonic theory is outlined, based on Weick’s account of organising, describing mechanisms according to which ITartefacts and organisations become related.

Assuming the embryonic theory of informaction systems to be valid some initial conclusions concerning my original research question can be deduced. (1) seeing an IT-artefact and organisational agent as an action-producing unit means that no one has unilateral control over the co-produced organisational actions. (2) informaction systems become established rather than implemented. (3) sustaining relations is not a design problem, instead it is usually connected to care, so my secondary research question needs to be characterised by a shift from a design mood to a care mood. (4) guidance of an activity in which there is no unilateral control and that has a lot to do with care is characterised by a shift from management to stewardship. (5) the idea that implementation of IT-artefacts dictates organisational behaviour has to be abandoned. Instead it is paramount importance to be sensitive to how IT-artefacts actually become made sense of and hence used and utilised. This can be characterised as a shift in focus from telling to listening. These conclusions are subsumed in an approach to my original research question I have named informaction systems stewardship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. , 230 p.
Research reports in informatics, ISSN 1401-4572 ; 03:02
Keyword [en]
Informatics, computer and systems science, informaction system, utilisation of IT, informaction systems stewardship, constructive conversation
Keyword [sv]
Informatik, data- och systemvetenskap
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Research subject
Computer Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-152ISBN: 91-7305-561-1OAI: diva2:141286
Public defence
2003-12-05, Umeå, 13:00
Available from: 2003-11-13 Created: 2003-11-13Bibliographically approved

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