Information Systems as Wicked Problems

Information Systems as Wicked Problems

Gill Mallalieu (University of Sunderland, UK) and Steve Clarke (University of Luton Business School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-64-3.ch009
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Abstract

The idea of the ‘wicked problem’ (Churchman, 1967), which advocates a pragmatic oscillation between problem and solution, rather than an attempt to reduce the problem to a series of steps to be followed sequentially, has been particularly helpful to us in conceptualising the relationships between people, organisations and information technology (IT). This conceptualisation was tested in the RAMESES project (Risk Assessment Model: Evaluation Strategy for Existing Systems), using grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1997) as the basis for the methodology. The overall objective of RAMESES is ‘to provide a strategic model for the risk assessment of legacy software systems within SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) considering business process change.’ Thus the relationship between the organisation, the way its staff carried out its processes, and their legacy IT systems was at the centre of our concerns. This chapter describes how the broad conceptualisation of the problem led to a detailed method to address it and the results available to date.

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