Using Network Analysis and Visualization to Analyze Problematic Enterprise Information Systems

Using Network Analysis and Visualization to Analyze Problematic Enterprise Information Systems

David Greenwood (University of St. Andrews, UK) and Ian Sommerville (University of St. Andrews, UK)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3998-0.ch020
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

Society is demanding larger and more complex information systems to support increasingly complex and critical organisational work. Whilst troubleshooting socio-technical issues in small-to-medium scale situations may be achievable using approaches such as ethnography, troubleshooting enterprise scale situations is an open research question because of the overwhelming number of socio-technical elements and interactions involved. This paper demonstrates proof-of-concept tools for network analysis and visualisation that may provide a promising avenue for identifying problematic elements and interactions among an overwhelming number of socio-technical elements. The findings indicate that computers may be used to aid the analysis of problematic large-scale complex socio-technical situations by using analytical techniques to highlighting elements, or groups of interacting elements, that are important to the overall outcome of a problematic situation.
Chapter Preview
Top

1. Introduction

Systems science has long since been applied to the study and troubleshooting of socio-technical systems. The conceptual reframing of work organizations in terms of socio-technical systems came with the publication of Eric Trist’s (1950) “The Relations of Social and Technical Systems in Coal-Mining” (Trist, 1981). This research arose due to ‘human relations’ problems arising from technocratic technology led work transformation approaches practiced during the era. Between 1950–1970 studies and action research evolved a set of socio-technical design principles to maximise productivity by optimising the organisation of workers and equipment rather than using Tayloristic principles to organise workers around equipment (Trist, 1981; Clegg, 2000). Whilst these insights and design principles were derived from studies and action research in industrial settings such as coalmines, textile factories, automotive manufacturing and power plants, similar problems were observed in office based work environments once information technology had been introduced (Ackoff, 1967; Mumford, Mercer et al., 1972; Bostrom & Heinen, 1977).

Problems associated with technocratic technology led work transformation have never been resolved. For example, Doherty and King (2001, 2005) and Doherty, King et al. (2003) report that socio-technical issues are still common when information systems are implemented. In the 1990s we even witnessed the popularity and ‘mixed results’ associated business process reengineering – a form of technocratic technology led work transformation (O'Neill & Sohal, 1999; Mumford, 2006). These problems are arguably more acute today than ever before as society is demanding the development of larger and more complex information systems to support increasingly complex and critical organizational work (Bullock & Cliff, 2004; RAE, 2004; Baxter & Sommerville, 2011). Whilst analysing socio-technical issues in small-to-medium scale situations may be achievable using approaches such as rapid ethnography (Millen 2000) combined with a theoretical framework such as distributed cognition (Hutchins, 1995) or activity systems theory (Engestrom, 2000); analysing enterprise scale situations is an open research question because of the overwhelming number of socio-technical elements and interactions involved (RAE, 2004).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset