Learning to Analyze Unstructured Systems Using Forster's A Passage to India

Learning to Analyze Unstructured Systems Using Forster's A Passage to India

Athar Murtuza (Seton Hall University, USA) and Muhammad Ali (Tuskegee University, USA)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-93177-739-1.ch017
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The chapter seeks to promote use of literary works as a teaching resource for management information systems (MIS) courses. It does so by using a novel written by E.M. Forster to illustrate what may be done. The use of such a resource to supplement MIS teaching can help students’ communication skills and raise their awareness of cultural diversity in the global village. The main focus in this chapter, however, is to provide a way for instructors to impress upon students the need to be aware of the great number of managerial decisions that cannot be made using boiler-plate recipes. Managers who make decisions often must deal with unstructured situations involving non-recurring and non-routine issues. Such situations do not fit established models and conceptual frameworks; consequently, managers have to rely on their expertise in dealing with them. The education of MIS analysts and managers needs to include such awareness so they will be better prepared to deal with a world where the only constant is change. The chapter starts by discussing the various benefits that can result from using literary works in systems analysis courses. Works such as A Passage to India combine elements associated with both case studies and experiential learning. This makes literary works potentially a very useful resource for MIS curricula even though such an idea may seem unconventional. Even though MIS educators do not use literary works, other curricula aimed at various professions, such as medicine and law, are using them as a teaching resource. After discussing the potential benefits of this untapped resource, the chapter provides a synopsis of the novel. It then discusses the specific relevance of Forster’s novel for MIS and suggests ways of using it in systems analysis context.

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