New book: Phenomenology, Organizational Politics, and IT Design: The Social Study of Information Systems


Information systems are researched, published on, and utilized as an extremely broad and vital sector of current technology development, usually studied from the scientific or technological viewpoints therein.

Phenomenology, Organizational Politics, and IT Design: The Social Study of Information Systems offers a new look at the latest research and critical issues within the field of information systems by creating solid theoretical frameworks and the latest empirical findings of social developments. Professionals, academics, and researchers working with information will find this volume a compelling and vital resource for a cross fertilization among different, yet complementary, and strictly connected domains of scientific knowledge, consisting of information systems research, philosophy of social science, and organizational studies.
And, to shameless promote my portion of the book, about the micro-political order of prioritizing implementation timelines; here is an excerpt of the introductory remarks:
One example of the heightened institutional appropriation of ethnomethod’s reflexive nature emerges from Nicholas Rowland study of Enterprise Resource Planning software usage in American Universities (Rowland, this volume). His empirical case study demonstrates that the received ethnomethodological transcendental interest that the social order is always a local accomplishment—that is the result of a concerted activity of a community of co-operating fellows—requires some further discussion. Rowland’s paper provides illustrations of how people involved in large-scale information systems implementation do not know what they mean when they produce accounts. He does so by making reference to the ‘fit-gap work’ taking place during ERP implementations, but he also identifies how participants found ways to deal with these uncertainties, to manage the reflexivity of their understandings. In particular, he makes reference to the “prioritizing/de-prioritizing” work. Something that cannot be decided, or evaluated on the basis of a sufficiently accountable manner, gets de-prioritized. The most useful feature of de-prioritization is that issues related to implementation that become de-prioritized are “removed without removing” and remain in the purgatory of prospective possibilities.

The process of natural objectification of practices for organizing the orderliness of events produces tools, instruments, artefacts, benchmarks that become available for future and distant accomplishments. What the illustration deriving from the “fit-gap work” reminds us is that these commodities are certainly re-enacted in each locale, but people do not re-invent the wheel all the same all the time. Prior than the transcendent re-enactment of social order, the chief interest of social researchers in information system is on the layers of customization encrusted in organizing artifacts and ordering systems that protect people from being disbanded every time they encounter even the most routine task. What Nicholas Rowland study suggests is that it is true that people do not know what they mean when they produce accounts, but it is also true that they know that. And by knowing that, people’s major occupation is to produce work-arounds in order to reduce the noise of the reflexivity of understandings (e.g. the ‘fit-gap work’). These accomplishments, that take the form of routines, tools, instruments, artefacts and institutions, are of central interest for a social researcher in Information Infrastructures.