In this chapter a case study is presented, in which the ethnomethodological approach is used to analyze the impact of the implementation of an information system, called Sispes, on organizational communication processes in the residence for elderly Giovanelli (Italy). Sispes is a Web-based platform which sustains communication processes and knowledge management according to a customized workflow management system. Adopting structuration theories in the analysis of the case study, and taking inspiration from the philosophical tradition, especially in epistemology and in the analytic philosophy of law, an innovative perspective is adopted, which specifically acknowledges the role played by the communication processes in shaping both the attitudes of the involved actors and the social reality in which they are immersed. According to this perspective, three types of communication processes are presented, namely the normative, descriptive and constructive approach. These latter are then applied to a concrete case study.
In the last decades, organizations had to deal with dynamic markets, characterized by specialization of work, outsourcing processes, just in time and distributed production, etc. In this scenario the continuous innovation in technology solutions and its contradicting empirical effects on organizations have maintained a strong interest for researchers who try to develop new and more complete theoretical models.
Even if non profit organizations (such as cooperative and social based firms) are working in a more stable environment, the turbulent network of stakeholders influence them. In this scenario, public or private residences for elderly are not an exception, they become part of inter-organizational or informal networks, opening their virtual value chain to other companies, outsourcing their non core services and, finally, specializing their core activities such as nursing, medical, and physiotherapeutic services (see for instance Child, 1972; Child and Faulkner, 1998; Cook, 1976; Lowndes and Skelcher, 1998; Murray, 1997; Vangen and Huxham, 2003). This allows residences for elderly to offer a good quality service, improving the guests’ welfare. In order to do that, they have to coordinate a constellation of specialized units, some of which are part of the organization (administration, R&D, etc.) while others refer to different companies (such as restaurant, cleaning, transportation and logistic services).
In order to stimulate coordination in a complex environment, innovative Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions are implemented and communication processes are continuously reengineered. The following paragraphs describe some organizational coordination and communication processes, and how ICT, information or knowledge management systems might sustain these processes. Finally, it is argued that these latter are not neutral assets in organizations, but are strictly related to pre-existing coordination processes and types of production.