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Information View of Organizations: Contextualizing Technology – Technologizing Context Bob Travica University of Manitoba Tampa, Florida August 4, 2003 PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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AMCIS 2003. Information View of Organizations: Contextualizing Technology – Technologizing Context Bob Travica University of Manitoba Tampa, Florida August 4, 2003. Outline. Rationale: State of Relationship between IS theory and Organization Theory Programmatic Proposal:

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Information View of Organizations: Contextualizing Technology – Technologizing Context Bob Travica University of Manitoba Tampa, Florida August 4, 2003

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AMCIS 2003

Information View of Organizations:

Contextualizing Technology – Technologizing Context

Bob Travica

University of Manitoba

Tampa, Florida

August 4, 2003


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Outline

  • Rationale:

  • State of Relationship between IS theory and Organization Theory

  • Programmatic Proposal:

  • Information View of Organizations (IVO)

  • Conclusion


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Rationale

  • Narrow bridge between IS theory and Organization Theory (cf. Orlikowski & Barley, 2001)

  • Organization Theory: IT on Margin of Radar Screen (cf. Clegg et al., 1996; Currie & Galliers, 1999; Hatch, 1997)

  • IS Theory: Vanishing Point of Organizational Context (cf. Orlikowski & Barley, ibid.)

  • Goal: Broaden the bridge between the two fields


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Computer Science,

Artificial Intelligence,

Telecommunications

Psychology, Sociology,

Economics, Decision Sciences,

Human Communication,

Cognitive Sciences...

General Systems Theory

&

Special Systems Theory

Information Systems

Theory

Organization & Management

Theory

The bridge exists…


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… but the bridge is narrow…

  • Organization Theory: IT not on Radar Screen

  • IT for electronic commerce, ERP, electronic information properties & effects

  • IT one of “high technologies”

  • Modern IT indifferent to technology typologies (Woodward, Thompson, Perrow)

  • Some creative leads: Weick (1990), technology as equivoque (indetereministic, physical vs. metnal image of processes, high automation level


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… on each side

IS Theory: Vanishing Point of Organizational Context

  • Catch the tech wind

  • Lonely homo informaticus – “we aren’t sociologists”

  • “I measure, ergo I do science”

  • We sell IT, practical relevance of IS field matters (trendy IT + hodge-podge of organizational issues)

  • And we discover, hoopla! (e.g., Chinese is more

    likely to be used in Peking than in New York)


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Jealous Mistress!

  • Oh, yeah, and we educate organization theory on the thing we are experts for – IT. So, IT is:

- computer software and hardware

- specific type, like email, whose actual characteristics

are, ahem, irrelevant

- actually, a black box (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001)

- and it can also be … whack!

What?

Oh, yeeeah…


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Programmatic Proposal

  • Information View of Organizations (IVO) anchored both in IS and organization theory

  • Introduce a new “view” in organization theory, comparable to structural, cultural… views

  • Strengthen organizational context in IS theory (“views”, group theory, cognitive psychology…)


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Basic Terminology

Information: an umbrella term, info. in a broader sense includes knowledge as well as meaningful data (information in narrower sense), wisdom, and data

“Information Technology” (IT):

includes cognitive components (known techniques), and material artifacts (computer, paper) for creating and manipulating information


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Topical Area in IVO

Content / Approach in IVO

Individual

Cognitive aspects and information behaviors; Users as knowledge subjects

and IT developers

Group

Cognition; decision making, organization of work etc. in conjunction with GSS

Structure, Culture, Politics “Views”

Reinterpretation from the perspective of information and IT

Organizational Economics

Relationships with IT, information, IS

Systems, Process and Knowledge Views

Integration into IVO

Organizational Roles of Information and IT

Critical examination of classical premises

Ontologies and Metaphors of Organization

Modernist rationality vs. alternatives; functionalist, interpretive and postmodern approaches;

machine vs. brain/intelligence

Possible Topical Areas in IVO


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Work Groups in IVO

  • Interest in Cognitive Aspects:

  • Group Memory; transactive memory (Moreland &

  • Wingert (1995)

  • Collective Mind (Yoo, 2001)

  • Noise in Group Thinking: cognitive loafing (Shaila &

  • Saunders, 1995), groupthink

  • Shaping of GSS-triggered cognitive process and outcome

  • by groups: MRT revision; IT structuration (Orlikowski); facilitation with GDSS; user drifting (Ciborra, 1996)


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Info/IT Formalization

The extent to which written rules, procedures and instructions on handling information and IT are extant.

Paper and electronic manuals of handing information and IT that are readily available.

Info/IT Centralization

The extent to which information and access to IT are concentrated.

The number of locations at which information for making certain decisions is regularly allocated.

Organizational Structure in IVO

Examples:


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Organizational Culture in IVO

Examples of cultural items related to info/IT from Orlikowski’s (1996) study of a software firm:

·Value of documenting well problem solving;

·Story on frustrated user when documenting is poor;

·Signature on solution as a symbol of solution quality;

  • Professional and diplomatic language used in documenting

  • ·Apprehensive attitudes toward management’s online monitoring

  • ·Showing off through online information on problems solved

  • ·Norms for accessing knowledge stored in the system


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Organizational Culture in IVO

It is possible to conceive a part of organizational culture

whose assumptions, values , symbols and practices are

focused on information (in broader sense) and IT.


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Incorporation into IVO

  • Systems approach

  • Which one?

  • System model/s useful for understanding info/IT in

  • today’s organization?

  • Global asymmetries.

  • Process approach

  • Merit? IT/info vs. social aspects in process?

  • Relationships between process, structure and system?

  • Possible to conceive information processes.


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Incorporation into IVO

  • Knowledge approach/es

  • Beyond management, as medium for understanding organizations (IT is knowledge and knowledge is in IT)

  • Knowledge as asset (intellectual capital) since data and much of information in narrow sense broadly accessible – no comparative advantage any longer

  • Knowledge is object of org. culture, access to it is part of org. structure…


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Organizational Roles of Information and IT

  • Information teleology:

  • Uncertainty reduction vs. uncertainty creation

  • (“strategic ambiguity & creative chaos”; Nonaka & Takecuhi, 1995)

  • IT teleology:

  • IT as means of order & control vs. disturbance & empowerment

  • Organization ontology:

  • Organization as machine vs. brain, form of intelligence;

  • E pluribus unum or Unum est pluribus


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Conclusion

  • There exists ground for developing an information view

  • of organizations (IVO) that may help broaden the bridge

  • between IS theory and organization theory

  • IVO can build on existing organization views as well as

  • systems, knowledge and other established approaches

  • More liberal and flexible philosophy of organizations and

  • information/IT needed


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