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Information system and organization as multipurpose network
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Informationssystem och organisation som multi-aktörsnätverk (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

   Information systems (IS) are widely acknowledged to be central for contemporary organizations. Along with the increasing importance of new IS in organizations, a school of thought has developed over the last few years that claims that IS and organizations mutually shape each other. While new IS shape organizational structure and behavior, the actual role and importance of IS in organizations is largely dependent on the organizational setting. However, questions of how IS and organizations mutually shape each other have remained largely unexplored.

   The purpose of this thesis is to create better understanding of the design and use of IS in an organizational context. Actor-network theory (ANT) is used as a theoretical perspective to gain an understanding of how IS and organization influence each other. An interpretive case study approach was used for data collection. The case study was conducted in the municipal organization of Umeå, Sweden, over a period 36 months that covered the design process and use of a new IS. Semi-structured interviews, participant observations and document analysis were used as data collection techniques.

   The findings indicate that the municipal organization became intertwined with technology by mobilizing a significant amount of allies in the IS adaption process. It was also found that the character of the IS in the organization was multi-faceted, and there were different versions of the application available for different actors. A new organizational behavior was established as a result of the design and use of the IS. While the new IS contributed to making more available the complicated financial aspects of the municipality, it also contributed in reinforcing a certain view on decision-making that was focused on organizational resources rather than on organizational objectives. The organizational changes that took place were of a constant nature, and there was no closure of the change processes as new issues continuously surfaced that needed attention.

   The concept of evolving multi-purpose networks is coined to describe and analyze the character of the technology dependent organization. The concept of negotiation loop is coined to describe and analyze the processes of IS adaption, where the role and meaning of the IS changes as new actors are enrolled to the network. An evolving multipurpose network is changeful as negotiation loops continue after the IS is established in the organization. The notation of evolving multipurpose networks is meant to stimulate reflection both for researchers and practitioners, underscoring the negotiated character of IS in organizations. It is meant to allow a better understanding for how the design and use of IS in an organizational context is a process of mutual influence between the IS and organization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för informatik, Umeå universitet , 2000. , 255 p.
Research reports in informatics, ISSN 1401-4572 ; 2000:01
Keyword [en]
IS and organization, organizational change, organizational behavior, actor-network theory, interpretive case study
National Category
Information Science Information Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-33224ISBN: 91-7191-783-7OAI: diva2:310990
Public defence
2000-04-13, MIT-huset, MA 121, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-06-01 Created: 2010-04-19 Last updated: 2013-11-05Bibliographically approved

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