Information Systems as Social Systems

Information Systems as Social Systems

N. du Plooy (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-040-0.ch006
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Abstract

Since the very early days of computing, information systems were regarded as “man-machine” systems. This definition is of far greater importance to the teaching of information systems as well as to the profession of information systems developers than is often recognised. The majority of teachers, and textbooks, are still caught in the paradigm that information systems development is a technical “art” rather than a field that concerns sociological, rather than technical problems. This chapter argues that the “human” or sociological side of information systems is of such importance that it should be seen as the core of the discipline, and that information systems are best understood when viewed as social systems. Examining the nondeterministic nature of information systems and applying Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety are helpful to describe and explain these systems as social systems. The paper also refers to current thinking on systems (especially soft systems methodology) and its place in supporting information systems in a constantly changing environment. Finally, the implications of viewing information systems as social systems are discussed with respect to teaching and research, the impact of information systems on organizations, and the shortcomings of current software engineering methodologies.

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Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1
Manuel Mora, Ovsei Gelman, Francisco Cervantes, Marcelo MejIa, Alfredo Weitzenfeld
In the new economic context, based on Information and Knowledge resources, the concepts of Information Systems and Information Technology (IS&IT)... Sample PDF
A Systemic Approach for the Formalization of the Information Systems Concept: Why Information Systems are Systems?
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Chapter 2
Jeimy J. Cano
Information Technology, during the last few years, has turned into a determining factor of modern organization development. In this line, a lot of... Sample PDF
Technological Frames Recursive Construction Approach: A Systemic Theory for Information Technology Incorporation in Organizations
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Chapter 3
Hernan Lopez-Garay
Recent developments in systems thinking (Fuenmayor & López Garay, 1991; Fuenmayor, 1991a,b,c; Fuenmayor, 1997; López-Garay & Suárez, 1999) linked to... Sample PDF
Extending Checkland's Phenomenological Approach to Information Systems
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Chapter 4
Jose L. Roldan, Antonio Leal
This chapter offers a reflection about systems thinking, models and validation tests. In this way, starting from the recognized model of information... Sample PDF
A Validation Test of an Adaptation of the DeLone and McLean's Model in the Spanish EIS Field
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Chapter 5
Roberto Vinaja
This chapter applies several concepts from classical Systems Theory to the growing area of E-commerce and agents. The purpose of this chapter is to... Sample PDF
A Systemic Approach of Electronic Commerce
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Chapter 6
N. du Plooy
Since the very early days of computing, information systems were regarded as “man-machine” systems. This definition is of far greater importance to... Sample PDF
Information Systems as Social Systems
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Chapter 7
Philip J. Dobson
The chapter revisits the System of System Methodologies (SoSM) and suggests that use of the SoSM as a framework for defining methodological... Sample PDF
The SoSM Revisited-A Critical Realist Perspective
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Chapter 8
Ala Abu-Samaha
In this chapter, the author describes an alternative approach to evaluating Information Technology (IT) projects, which involves developing a... Sample PDF
Soft Evaluation: A Systemic Approach for Post-Implementation Review
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Chapter 9
Rodrigo Cordoba, Gerald Midgley
Most current information systems (IS) planning methodologies are focused on achieving ‘successful’ plans, i.e., plans that provide competitive... Sample PDF
Addressing Organizational and Societal Concerns: An Application of Critical Systems Thinking to Information Systems Planning in Colombia
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Chapter 10
Bruce R. Campbell, G. Mike McGrath
There is considerable evidence that many information systems (IS) projects fail because of organizational, “softer” or “people-related” issues.... Sample PDF
The Information System within the Organization: A Case Study
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Chapter 11
Tatyana Bondarouk, Klaus Sikkel
Nowadays, more and more information and communication technologies (ICT) gain the characteristics of groupware as they strive to support different... Sample PDF
Implementation of Collaborative Technologies as a Learning Process
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Chapter 12
Sushil K. Sharma, Jatinder N.D. Gupta
The concept of the learning organization that strives continually to develop its people and processes will be an accepted philosophy of all... Sample PDF
A Framework for Building Learning Organizations
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