Co-operative information system design : how multi-domain information system design takes place in UK organisations
Gasson, Susan (1997) Co-operative information system design : how multi-domain information system design takes place in UK organisations. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1362815~S15
The thesis focussed on the need to understand the nature of design processes in innovative,
multi-domain, organisational information systems design. A cross-disciplinary, interpretive
investigation of organisational IS design was based upon multiple literatures: information
system development and methodologies, human-computer interaction, situated action, social
psychology, psychology of programming, computer-supported co-operative work, computer
science, design 'rationale' and organisational behaviour. Three studies were performed:
1. A case study of a user-centred design project, employing grounded theory analysis.
2. A postal survey of IS development approaches in large UK companies.
3. A longitudinal field study, involving participant observation over a period of 18 months in
a cross-domain design team, employing ethnography, discourse analysis and
The main contributions of this research were to provide rich insights into the interior nature of
IS design activity, situated in the context of the organisation (a perspective which is largely
missing from the literature); to provide conceptual models to explain the management of
meaning in design, and design framing activity; to produce a social action model of
organisational information system development which may form the basis for communicating
the situated nature of design in teaching; and to suggest elements of a process model of design
activity in multi-domain, organisational information system development. The implications of
the research findings for IS managers and developers are also considered a significant
contribution to practice.
Detailed findings from these studies relate to:
I. Disparities between the technology-centred view of organisational IS development found
in the literature and the business and organisation-based approaches reported in the
2. The role of pre-existing 'investment in form' in shaping the meaning of design processes
and outcomes for other team members and its implications for the management of
expertise and for achieving double-loop leaming.
3. The detailed processes by which design is framed at individual and group levels of
analysis. These findings indicated a mismatch between "top down" models of
organisational IS design and observed design "abstraction" processes, which were
grounded in concrete analogies and local exemplars; this finding has significant
implications for organisational design approaches, such as Business Process Redesign.
4. The distributed nature of group design, which has implications for achieving a 'common
vision' of the design and for the division of labour in design groups. Intersubjectivity with
respect to process objectives may be more critical to design success than intersubjectivity
with respect to the products of design. -
5. The political nature of design activity: it was concluded that an effective design process
must manage conflict between the exploration of organisational possibilities and
influential, external stakeholders' expectations of efficiency benefits.
6. Design suffers from legitimacy problems related to the investigation of a "grey area"
between explicit system design goals and boundary and emergent definitions of design
goals and target system boundaries; this issue needs to be managed both internally to the
design-team and externally, in respect of stakeholders and influential decision-makers.
It is argued that the situated nature of design requires the teaching of design skills to be
achieved through simulated design contexts, rather than the communication of abstract
models. It is also suggested that the findings of this thesis have implications for knowledge
management and organisational innovation. If organisational problem-investigation processes
are seen as involving distributed knowledge, then the focus of organisational learning and
innovation shifts from sharing organisational knowledge to accessing distributed
organisational knowledge which is emergent and incomplete.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Information resources management -- Great Britain, Information storage and retrieval systems -- Design, Business enterprises -- Information technology -- Great Britain, Business planning -- Great Britain|
|Official Date:||September 1997|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Warwick Business School|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Galliers, Robert, 1947-|
|Extent:||ix, 302,  leaves|
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