Featuring Technology in Studies of E-Collaboration Technology Effects

Featuring Technology in Studies of E-Collaboration Technology Effects

M. Lynne Markus (Bentley College, USA)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-393-7.ch002
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Abstract

For the 2005 launch of the International Journal of e-Collaboration I wrote an essay in response to Orlikowski and Iacono’s (2001) call for enhanced theorization of the IT artifact. Specifically, I set out to develop a “tool view” of IT, arguing that this perspective was deeply engrained in the IS worldview, but poorly conceptualized. In what I called “the technology-shaping1 perspective”, I hypothesized that, although IT does not determine outcomes, the use of IT might be associated probabilistically with patterns of consequences that can be attributed to the material features of IT. Technologies pose problems for users who want to use them for particular goals; the solutions users arrive at for those problems during recurrent IT use may exhibit certain regularities across different contexts. Consequently, small differences in the features of apparently similar tools could be associated with variations in usage patterns and social outcomes. I gave examples to illustrate the argument and explained that, despite hundreds of studies of group support systems, the technology- shaping hypothesis has not yet been tested.Since the article was written, I have received comments from a number of colleagues. I have continued to explore the ideas proposed in the article, concluding that the development task is bigger than I thought at that time—but still worth pursuing. Because I have not yet resolved the issues to my satisfaction, this chapter does not represent a comprehensive revision. Instead, the chapter contains a few updates, many annotations, and a postscript in response to some of the readers’ comments.

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