The Use of Structuration Theory and Actor Network Theory for Analysis: Case Study of a Financial Institution in South Africa

The Use of Structuration Theory and Actor Network Theory for Analysis: Case Study of a Financial Institution in South Africa

Tiko Iyamu (Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa) and Dewald Roode (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1559-5.ch001
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Abstract

In the current climate of global competitiveness, many organisations are increasingly dependent on their IT strategy – either to increase their competitiveness, or often just to survive. Yet little is known about the non-technical influencing factors (such as people) and their impact on the development and implementation of IT strategy. There would therefore seem to be prima facie evidence that there is a need for a new approach to examining the relationships between social factors, technology and the organisation with respect to the development and implementation of IT strategy. This article seeks to make a contribution in this regard. Structuration Theory and Actor-Network Theory were employed to analyse how non-technical factors influence IT strategy. Structuration Theory holds that human actions are enabled and constrained by structures. Structures are rules and resources that do not exist independently of human action, nor are they material entities. Giddens describes them as ‘traces in the mind’ and argues that they exist only through the action of human beings. Actor Network Theory (ANT) provides a fresh perspective on the importance of relationships between actors that are both human and non-human. By their very presence, actors work to establish, maintain and revise the construction of organisational networks of aligned interests and gradually form stable actor-networks. ANT emphasises the heterogeneous nature of actor-networks which consist of and link together both technical and non-technical elements.
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Research Approach

The research approach, including the data collection was guided by the research question: what are the socio-technical factors influencing the development and implementation of IT strategy in the organisation?

The organisation used in the case study is a financial institution in South Africa. It has one of the largest IT departments in the country, with over four hundred and fifty employees. There were many departments and units, including architecture, application development, and network and support in the computing environment.

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