Recontextualising Technology in Appropriation Processes

Recontextualising Technology in Appropriation Processes

Monique Janneck (University of Hamburg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-264-0.ch011
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Abstract

For a technology use to be successful, the circumstance of its introduction into a use context—or recontextualization— is crucial. The users of a technical artifact play an active role in this process: They appropriate the technology, that is, they explore a new technology and choose how to integrate (or not integrate) it into their practices and (work) routines. This chapter discusses a variety of factors that influence technology artifact appropriation. It illustrates the process of recontextualizing technological artifacts, and common pitfalls associated with it, as well as the protagonists doing the appropriation. For empirical illustration, case studies from different use contexts are presented, including some “lessons learned” drawn from them. Concluding, further research perspectives and challenges are discussed.
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Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

—John Lennon

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Introduction

Imagine the following scenario: XNET is a virtual organization consisting of several individual and small-to-medium-sized enterprises in the consulting business. To strengthen their market position, the business partners venture for joint acquisition of customers and projects. Since the individual partners reside and work distributed geographically, they decide to establish a knowledge management system and intranet to enhance communication and information flow. After examining several options, a widely used off-the-shelf software product is chosen, which nevertheless allows for customization. A task force is installed that produces checklists, guidelines, and proposals for use. They also offer individual support and regularly monitor use. As the intranet turns out to be barely used, another software product is chosen and installed with quite some effort but equally low success, causing quite a bit of frustration. Finally, as part of a research project, a third groupware system is developed according to the network’s needs, but, usage reports remain disappointing. There are almost no contributions besides those posted by a few active network members, trying to foster use. The other members seem to mostly ignore the system, preferring communication via e-mail or face-to-face—just like they did before the new software was introduced.

This scenario has not been made up; it was adapted from a research project on technology development and use for virtual organizations (Janneck & Finck 2006a, b, Janneck, Finck & Obendorf 2006, Finck & Janneck 2008). It is a common experience that new technology—especially information technology—is not used as expected, less than expected, or even not used at all (cf. Huysman et al. 2003, Ciborra 1996, Orlikowski 1996, Bossen & Dalsgaard 2005). This is often a frustrating experience: Apart from not achieving the intended benefits, possibly pricy investments are lost.

To ensure usability and suitability for the use context, state-of-the-art software engineering approaches stress the importance of involving users in the design process, e.g. participatory design (PD) or prototyping methods. Nevertheless, software engineering methods and research focus mostly on the phase before new information technology is put to regular use, which has been termed decontextualization phase (Krause, Rolf, Christ & Simon 2006, Simon, Janneck & Gumm 2006, Sesink 2003). However, for successful software support, the circumstances of its introduction into a use context and the development of use practices are equally crucial—a process analogously understood as recontextualization (Krause et al. 2006, Simon et al. 2006, Sesink 2003).

The recontextualization phase is accompanied by user activities known as technology appropriation (cf. Orlikowski, Yates, Okamura & Fujimoto 1995): Appropriation is “the process by which people adopt and adapt technology, fitting them into their working practices” (Dourish 2003). Thus, technology appropriation is an active endeavor of users who explore new technologies and choose how to integrate them into their lives. Appropriation might change technology (use): People might decide to use it differently than intended by the developers (maybe inventing highly creative ways of “misuse”), or not to use it at all. They might also decide to alter the technology itself, for example by changing the preset configuration of functions or modes of display—an activity known as tailoring (cf. Pipek 2005).

Appropriation can be an individual as well as a cooperative activity, with groups of users discussing and negotiating terms of usage. For groupware use in cooperative working and learning scenarios, collaborative appropriation has been described as an important success factor (cf. Huysman et al. 2003, Pipek 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Decontextualization: Formalizing human and organizational actions and practices and transforming them into algorithms computers can execute as part of software or generally technology development.

Participatory Design: Software Engineering approach seeking active involvement of users in the design process.

Recontexualization: The process of bringing technology and the formalized practices associated with it back into the use context. Technology appropriation is understood as important part of recontextualization.

Technology Appropriation: The process of adopting and adapting technology by users or groups of users to integrate it into their lives, practices, and (work) routines.

Technology-use mediation: The process of moderating technology appropriation.

Social Identity Theory: Social psychological concept assuming that an individual’s self-concept and feeling of identity is closely related to memberships in different social groups.

Technology-use mediator: Organizationally sanctioned role supporting technology appropriation.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Ben Shneiderman
Preface
Brian Whitworth, Aldo de Moor
Acknowledgment
Brian Whitworth, Aldo de Moor
List of Reviewers
Prologue: General Socio-Technical Theory
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Chapter 1
Brian Whitworth
A socio-technical system (STS) is a social system built upon a technical base. An STS adds social requirements to human-computer interaction (HCI)... Sample PDF
The Social Requirements of Technical Systems
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Chapter 2
Matti Tedre
This chapter introduces the reader to some social research characteristics that are central to the social study of computer science. It introduces... Sample PDF
The Social Study of Computer Science
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Chapter 3
Ann Borda, Jonathan P. Bowen
This chapter introduces the concept of a Virtual Organization (VO), using the Internet to link geographically separated participants in an efficient... Sample PDF
Virtual Collaboration and Community
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Chapter 4
David Davenport
This chapter analyses the effect that social values have on the design of technical systems. Beginning with an examination of the role technology... Sample PDF
The Social Derivation of Technical Systems
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Chapter 5
Ken Eason, José Abdelnour-Nocera
This chapter sets the traditional focus of socio-technical systems theory on primary work systems in a modern context where information and... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Theory and Work Systems in the Information Age
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Chapter 6
Peter Day
This chapter introduces the community engagement strategy of the Community Network Analysis (CNA) project and considers its significance to research... Sample PDF
An Engagement Strategy for Community Network Research and Design
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Chapter 7
Cleidson R.B. de Souza, David F. Redmiles
This chapter reviews the socio-technical relationship between organizational and software structure. It describes the early theoretical work about... Sample PDF
On the Alignment of Organizational and Software Structure
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Chapter
Ronald K. Stamper
Prologue: Socio-Technical Perspectives
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Chapter 8
Catherine Heeney
The chapter discusses the traditional expectations about privacy protection and argues that current models for the governance of data do not... Sample PDF
Privacy and the Identity Gap in Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 9
Ronald Leenes
Second Life can be seen as a social microcosmos in which fairly normal people lead a social life and where social needs develop. Privacy is one of... Sample PDF
Privacy Regulation in the Metaverse
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Chapter 10
David Tuffley
This chapter introduces a process reference model of leadership for integrated teams operating in virtual environments. Geographically dispersed... Sample PDF
Leadership of Integrated Teams in Virtual Environments
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Chapter 11
Monique Janneck
For a technology use to be successful, the circumstance of its introduction into a use context—or recontextualization— is crucial. The users of a... Sample PDF
Recontextualising Technology in Appropriation Processes
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Chapter 12
Petter Bae Brandtzæg, Jan Heim
The last few years have seen a substantial growth in online communities such as MySpace and Facebook. In order to survive and increase in size... Sample PDF
Explaining Participation in Online Communities
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Chapter 13
Malcolm Shore
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Cyber Security and Anti-Social Networking
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Chapter 14
Wilson Huang, Shun-Yung Kevin Wang
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Emerging Cybercrime Variants in the Socio-Technical Space
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Chapter 15
Elayne W. Coakes, Peter Smith, Dee Alwis
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Developing Innovative Practice in Service Industries
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Chapter
Mark Aakhus
Prologue: Socio-Technical Analysis
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Chapter 16
Hans Weigand
Often socio-technical systems are designed simply on the basis of what the user asks, and without considering explicitly whether the required... Sample PDF
Using Communication Norms in Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 17
Jonas Sjöström, Göran Goldkuhl
This chapter introduces the theoretical framework of Socio-Instrumental Pragmatism (SIP) and illustrates how it has been used as an analytic... Sample PDF
Socio-Instrumental Pragmatism in Action
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Chapter 18
Paul J. Bracewell
Analytics provides evidence for objective corporate decision-making. Lack of understanding of analytical techniques can create confusion amongst... Sample PDF
A Framework for Using Analytics to Make Decisions
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Chapter 19
Mikael Lind, Peter Rittgen
Setting up co-design processes involving several stakeholders is a complex task. In this chapter the authors have looked upon experiences from... Sample PDF
The Challenges of Co-Design and the Case of e-Me
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Chapter 20
Harry S. Delugach
Automated tools are often used to support software development workflows. Many of these tools are aimed toward a development workflow that relies... Sample PDF
Formal Analysis of Workflows in Software Development
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Chapter 21
Dorit Nevo, Brent Furneaux
This chapter reviews the significance of expectations to information systems development with particular emphasis on the process of requirements... Sample PDF
The Role of Expectations in Information Systems Development
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Chapter 22
Jeff Axup
With mobile technologies increasingly weaving themselves into the fabric of our communities, it would be beneficial to increase our understanding of... Sample PDF
Building a Path for Future Communities
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Thomas Erickson
Prologue: Socio-Technical Design
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Chapter 23
Thomas Herrmann
Socio-technical systems integrate technical and organizational structures and are related to various stakeholders and their perspectives. The design... Sample PDF
Systems Design with the Socio-Technical Walkthrough
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Chapter 24
Anders I. Mørch
This chapter presents a translational approach to socio-technical design, as a new approach to the theorybased design of user interfaces, supported... Sample PDF
Applied Pragmatism and Interaction Design
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Chapter 25
Manuel Kolp, Yves Wautelet
Information systems are deeply linked to human activities. Unfortunately, development methodologies have been traditionally inspired by programming... Sample PDF
A Social Framework for Software Architectural Design
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Chapter 26
Designing for Trust  (pages 388-401)
Piotr Cofta
Designing for trust is a methodology that attempts to design our perception of trust in information systems, in the long-term expectation that such... Sample PDF
Designing for Trust
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Chapter 27
Dan Dixon
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Pattern Languages for CMC Design
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Chapter 28
Anton Nijholt, Dirk Heylen, Rutger Rienks
In this chapter the authors discuss a particular approach to the creation of socio-technical systems for the meeting domain. Besides presenting a... Sample PDF
Creating Social Technologies to Assist and Understand Social Interactions
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Chapter 29
Jos Benders, Ronald Batenburg, Paul Hoeken, Roel Schouteten
This chapter sketches an Organization Design perspective called “Modern Socio-technical Design”, and subsequently discusses the implementation of... Sample PDF
A Modern Socio-Technical View on ERP-Systems
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Chapter 30
Mary Allan, David Thorns
The chapter introduces the Bourdieuean habitus and field theory as a framework for an alternative way of investigating how perceptions of Media Rich... Sample PDF
Being Face to Face: A State of Mind or Technological Design?
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Chapter 31
Rebecca M. Ellis
This chapter introduces the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his concepts of “the field” and “capital” in relation to eBay. In any given... Sample PDF
Applying Bourdieu to eBay's Success and Socio-Technical Design
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Chapter 32
Christopher A. Miller
This chapter focuses not on technology mediation of human relationships, but rather on human-like relationships with technology itself. The author... Sample PDF
Relationships and Etiquette with Technical Systems
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Chapter
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Prologue: Socio-Technical Implementation
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Chapter 33
Laura Anna Ripamonti, Ines Di Loreto, Dario Maggiorini
The necessity of supporting more and more social interaction (and not only mere information sharing) in online environments is the disruptive force... Sample PDF
Augmenting Actual Life Through MUVEs
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Chapter 34
Mohamed Ben Ammar, Mahmoud Neji, Adel M. Alimi
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The Role of Affect in an Agent-Based Collaborative E-Learning System Used for Engineering Education
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Chapter 35
Pernilla Qvarfordt, Shumin Zhai
Eye-gaze plays an important role in face-to-face communication. This chapter presents research on exploiting the rich information contained in human... Sample PDF
Gaze-Aided Human-Computer and Human-Human Dialogue
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Chapter 36
Licia Calvi
The chapter presents and combines the results of two case studies dealing with online communities1 in order to understand under which conditions... Sample PDF
How to Engage Users in Online Sociability
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Chapter 37
Ivan Launders
The UK National Health Service (NHS) provides the opportunity to undertake local socio-technical system design to help staff maximize the... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Systems and Knowledge Representation
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Chapter 38
Claire de la Varre, Julie Keane, Matthew J. Irvin, Wallace Hannum
This chapter describes the design of a sociotechnical system to support rural high school students in an online distance education (ODE) course. The... Sample PDF
Social Support for Online Learning
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Chapter 39
Jeremy Birnholtz, Emilee J. Rader, Daniel B. Horn, Thomas Finholt
This chapter uses the theoretical notion of common ground to explore remote participation in experimental research. On one hand, there is a desire... Sample PDF
Enabling Remote Participation in Research
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Chapter
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Prologue: Socio-Technical Evaluation
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Chapter 40
John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, Umer Farooq, Jamika D. Burge
Socio-technical systems are social systems that incorporate technological infrastructures. At the group level of analysis, the most important... Sample PDF
Community Collective Efficacy
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Chapter 41
Tanguy Coenen, Wouter Van den Bosch, Veerle Van der Sluys
This chapter views social networking sites as supporting social capital and the advantages which derive from it, namely emotional support... Sample PDF
An Analysis of the Socio-Technical Gap in Social Networking Sites
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Chapter 42
Olga Kulyk, Betsy van Dijk, Paul van der Vet, Anton Nijholt, Gerrit van der Veer
This chapter addresses awareness support to enhance teamwork in co-located collaborative environments. In particular, the authors focus on the... Sample PDF
Situational Awareness In Collaborative Work Environments
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Chapter 43
Janet L. Holland
This chapter deals with research on the development and use of an assessment instrument for measuring affective satisfaction in online learning. The... Sample PDF
A Scale of Affective Satisfaction in Online Learning Communities
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Chapter 44
David Hinds, Ronald M. Lee
In this chapter, the authors suggest how measures of “social network health” can be used to evaluate the status and progress of a virtual community.... Sample PDF
Assessing the Social Network Health of Virtual Communities
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Chapter 45
Bertram C. Bruce, Andee Rubin, Junghyun An
This chapter introduces situated evaluation as an approach for evaluating socio-technical innovation and change. Many current evaluations simply... Sample PDF
Situated Evaluation of Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 46
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Communities all over the world have established their own value systems which do not necessarily correlate with the intrinsic values of technology.... Sample PDF
Cultural Appropriation of Software Design and Evaluation
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Chapter
Charles Steinfield
Prologue: The Future of Socio-Technical Systems
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Chapter 47
Peter J. Denning
Wicked problems (messes) are tangled social situations that are too costly to stay in and too intransigent to get out of. Collaboration is essential... Sample PDF
Resolving Wicked Problems through Collaboration
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Chapter 48
Rachel McLean
As a social activity, the shopping experience can not be recreated or improved through technical design alone. This chapter proposes that there is... Sample PDF
The Myth of the e-Commerce Serf to Sovereign Powershift
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Chapter 49
Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson
This chapter explores the challenges associated with teaching the principles of socio-technical systems in the dynamic climate that characterizes... Sample PDF
Teaching the Socio-Technical Practices of Tomorrow Today
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Chapter 50
Isa Jahnke
The chapter describes an empirical study of a socio-technical community—as an extended part of an institution— with the aim of revealing its... Sample PDF
Socio-Technical Communities: From Informal to Formal?
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Chapter 51
Laurence Claeys, Johan Criel
This chapter introduces the concept of critical user participation as a means to see the socio-technical gap in context aware applications as an... Sample PDF
Future Living in a Participatory Way
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Chapter 52
Paul Hodgson
This chapter analyses the formation and generation of social trust through communications technology in postmodern society, and presents some... Sample PDF
The Impact of Communications Technology on Trust
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Chapter 53
Kenneth E. Kendall, Julie E. Kendall
This chapter explores the social, organizational, and individual impacts of emerging information technologies using the advent of recent... Sample PDF
Good and Evil in the Garden of Emerging Information Technologies
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About the Contributors