Technology-Shaping Effects of E-Collaboration Technologies: Bugs and Features

Technology-Shaping Effects of E-Collaboration Technologies: Bugs and Features

M. Lynne Markus
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/jec.2005010101
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Recently, Orlikowski and Iacono (2001) called for increased theorizing of the information technology (IT) artifact. Both authors have made important contributions to what they refer to as the “ensemble” view of technology. By contrast, the “tool” view has remained noticeably underdeveloped. The goal of this essay is to begin articulating such a tool view for research on e-collaboration technologies. Referred to here as “the technology-shaping perspective,” this view eschews technological determinism but nevertheless looks for broad patterns of probabilistic effects that can be attributed to technology’s material features. In brief, the technology-shaping perspective holds that technologies pose problems for users who want to use them to accomplish particular goals; the solutions users create for those problems during recurrent use may exhibit certain regularities across different contexts. Consequently, small differences in the features of apparently similar tools could be associated with big differences in usage patterns and social outcomes. The claim is that conducting future research on a technology-shaping agenda could yield cumulative results that are less “disappointing” than many scholars find group decision support systems (GSS) research, the largest single body of work on e-collaboration technologies.

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