Vulnerability and the Aware IS Practitioner: A Reflexive Discourse on Unfinished Business

Vulnerability and the Aware IS Practitioner: A Reflexive Discourse on Unfinished Business

Simon Bell (Open University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-64-3.ch007
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Information technology (IT) projects regularly fail. IT projects fail rapidly, spectacularly and with monotonous regularity. IT and related information systems (IS) projects seem more prone than other technology-based interventions to prove to be enormously risky ventures for companies and government agencies to invest in. If this phenomenon is pronounced in so-called industrialised economies - the issues and problems around failure multiply when such projects are undertaken in transitional and developing economies. In all this failure the role of the IS practitioner appears invidious. On the one hand there are rapidly developing technologies and opportunities for change while on the other there are organisations often unable to express what change they desire or to articulate the difference between what they would like and what they feel able to cope with. It is little wonder that the IS practitioner—given the responsibility to manage the change process by analysis and design and other mediating strategies, can end up as the victim of technology failure, organisational inability to make up its mind and half-developed applications. In all this muddle the role of the action researcher (AR)—deeply involved with the processes and relationships within the research context is oddly empowered to deal with change while appearing even more vulnerable than his or her more managerialist or technologist colleagues. This chapter, by means of a reflective discourse representing my own learning, attempts to develop the theme of the vulnerability and power of the action research IS practitioner. Using current case study material drawn from working in transitional economies, the chapter indicates lessons learned in the value of the AR approach to analysis and design and the real benefits and powers which can arise from vulnerability such as autonomy and viability.

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Table of Contents
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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