Does User Centered Design, Coherent with Global Corporate Strategy, Encourage Development of Human Resource Intranet Use?

Does User Centered Design, Coherent with Global Corporate Strategy, Encourage Development of Human Resource Intranet Use?

Karine Guiderdoni-Jourdain (The Institute of Labour Economics and Industrial Sociology (LEST), Université de la Méditerranee, France) and Ewan Oiry (The Institute of Labour Economics and Industrial Sociology (LEST), Université de la Méditerranee, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-304-3.ch005
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In organizations, researchers as well as professionals have generally observed insufficient use of computer technologies when compared to their expected outcomes before their implementation (Bowers, 1995). Reiterating in detail Orlikowski’s theoretical propositions, the authors try to impart a clear theoretical status and to identify how transformation of the « artifact » can eventually transform uses. Using a longitudinal case study describing uses of a HR Intranet in an aeronautical firm, the authors want to show that: computer technology conception integrating user’s needs, which scientific literature usually calls « user centered » conception, allows use development. However, data gathered in the interviews allows stating that this kind of conception achieved to develop uses only because it was in a strong interaction with corporate policy.
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Computer Technology Use Literature Review

In the computer technology research field the question of use occupies a paradoxical position. This question seems to have always been at the heart of conceptors preoccupations and still, literature offers few theories allowing to understand and to anticipate development of use in concrete company situations. On this level, Orlikowski’s contribution (2000) is particularly motivating. After presenting it in detail we will continue by developing two areas that she explored less: technology use evolution and the role of the graphic interface (artifact) within this evolution.

Concrete Use are Relatively Absent in Research Analysis

In the area of computer technology research, the question of use occupies a paradoxical status. On one hand, the question has been the object of diversified and in-depth investigations. For example, the « Human Computer Interaction » (HCI) approach has focused on use since its goal is to improve the « usability» of technologies (Ruta, 2005). That is to say ergonomical technologies that demand minimal user learning in order to be used. In a more cooperative development logic, the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) approach has also focused on use of IT solutions (Greif, 1988).

But, even if those literatures have placed the uses at the very centre of their reflection, they talk finally very little of «real» uses for their technologies. Indeed, the uses analyzed are more often those of the designers themselves—who test their tools in an attempt to improve them—or those of specific users, often placed outside their classical work conditions, put in the specific position of «testers» of a technology. Indeed, if scientific works and prototypes proliferate in those communities, the successful implantations of software remain rarer (Grudin, 1988; Markus & Connolly, 1990; Olson & Teasley, 1996). This fact makes the analysis of uses more delicate since it is known that the users positioned in a role of «co-designers» do not have the same behaviour as the «real» users and these test situations (even reconstructed or within the context of an experiment) are rather different to real use situations (Bardini & Horvath, 1995; Woolgar, 1991).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Middle Management: The category of population characterizes by its specific position between the Board of Management and the staff. This population is one of the most important HR clients to satisfy, because they are considered as a key factor in the company’s transformation through managerial style and discourse.

HR Intranet: Intranet is a network based on TCP/IP protocol, which can be linked to Internet. HR intranet is the part of this tool dedicated to on-line services offered by the Human Resources department.

User-Centered Design (UCD): User-centered design is a project approach that puts the needs, wants and limitations of intended users of a technology at the centre of each stage of its design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the technology will deliver upon their requirements. In this project approach, such testings are necessary because it is considered as impossible for the designers to anticipate how real users interact with the technology they propose.

Strategy: Global mid-term orientation of an organization supposed to give it a strong advantage compared to other firms in the market.

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