Introduction: Information Systems as Constrained Variety-Issues and Scope

Introduction: Information Systems as Constrained Variety-Issues and Scope

Steve Clarke (University of Luton Business School, UK) and Brian Lehaney (University of Luton Business School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-64-3.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter seeks to cast light on the commonly encountered ‘human-centred’ versus ‘technology’ debate in information systems (IS: Clarke and Lehaney, 1998; Clarke and Lehaney, 1999; Lehaney, Clarke et al., 1999). It takes as its starting point a view which sees information systems as complex, adaptive, human activity systems, enabled by information technology (IT). Two approaches dominate in trying to understand such systems. The first redefines them as purely technical systems, for which a fixed and definable objective can be determined: from this point, the problem becomes one of design. The second approach sees the whole system through the views of the human participants: here, the problem initially is one of debate, aimed at determining a consensus view of the system of concern before moving on to designing relevant solutions. The technical view outlined above might be seen as an attempt to reduce the system’s complexity, by removing the voluntaristic, probabilistic behaviour which the human actors bring to the system. Once this is done, more technologically focused IS managers are on comfortable ground, having redefined the system as one which is highly deterministic, and for which a solution can be achieved through the design of a new or improved system. Similarly, the human-centred view may be seen as excluding technical considerations in order to reach agreement on the part of participants before proceeding further.

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Table of Contents
Preface
Steve Clarke, Brian Lehaney
Chapter 1
Steve Clarke, Brian Lehaney
This chapter seeks to cast light on the commonly encountered ‘human-centred’ versus ‘technology’ debate in information systems (IS: Clarke and... Sample PDF
Introduction: Information Systems as Constrained Variety-Issues and Scope
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Chapter 2
Andrew Wenn
This chapter describes some aspects of the development of VICNET, an assemblage of computers, cables, modems, people, texts, libraries, buildings... Sample PDF
Topological Transformations: The Co-Construction of an Open System
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Chapter 3
M. Gordon Hunter
There is evidence which suggests the software crisis still exists and is negatively impacting both information systems (IS) development and... Sample PDF
Excellent Systems Analysts: A Grounded Theory Approach to Qualitative Research
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Chapter 4
W. Hutchinson
Development techniques almost always use top-down approaches to develop software and business systems. Humans need to simplify the external world by... Sample PDF
Bottom-Up Management and System Design
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Chapter 5
Jonathan K. Lazar, Anthony F. Norcio
Errors are a major problem for users. In the distant past, the users of computer technology often were limited to computer professionals with... Sample PDF
System and Training Design for End-User Error
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Chapter 6
Ruth V. Small, Marilyn P. Arnone
As millions of people “search-and-surf “ the Internet, seeking needed products and services or just exploring to see “what’s out there,” businesses... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Web Sites
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Chapter 7
Simon Bell
Information technology (IT) projects regularly fail. IT projects fail rapidly, spectacularly and with monotonous regularity. IT and related... Sample PDF
Vulnerability and the Aware IS Practitioner: A Reflexive Discourse on Unfinished Business
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Chapter 8
Dianne Willis, Elayne Coakes
This chapter looks at the use of enabling technology, in particular the Internet, to share experiences of socio-technical thinking and practice.... Sample PDF
Enabling Technology for Collaborative Working: A Socio-Technical Experience
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Chapter 9
Gill Mallalieu, Steve Clarke
The idea of the ‘wicked problem’ (Churchman, 1967), which advocates a pragmatic oscillation between problem and solution, rather than an attempt to... Sample PDF
Information Systems as Wicked Problems
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Chapter 10
E. Vance Wilson, Joline P. Morrison
A key determinant in the success of computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS) and group support systems (GSS) is the task they are used for... Sample PDF
A Measuring of Task-Technology Fit for Computer-Mediated Communication
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Chapter 11
Elizabeth J. Davidson
Metaphors have long pervaded the discourse around information technology (IT) design (Johnson, 1994), helping developers to conceptualize... Sample PDF
The Metaphorical Implications of Data Warehousing
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Chapter 12
Lorraine Warren
Over the last four decades, information technology (IT) has permeated almost every aspect of our lives. From its origins in the data processing (DP)... Sample PDF
Critical Thinking and Human Centered Methods in Information Systems
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Chapter 13
Jose Rodrigo Cordoba, Gerald Midgley, Diego Ricardo Torres
Current practice in strategic information systems (IS) planning seems to be focused on surfacing an organisation’s vision and goals, exploring the... Sample PDF
Rethinking Stakeholder Involvement: An Application of the Theories of Autopoiesis and Boundary Critique to IS Planning
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About the Authors