Advertisement

Information Technology as Disciplinary Technology: Being Critical in Interpretive Research on Information Systems

  • Bill Doolin

Abstract

The collection, analysis and interpretation of data are always conducted within some broader understanding of what constitutes legitimate inquiry and valid knowledge (Henwood and Pidgeon, 1993). It is the methodology adopted by a researcher that is the dominant influence on the research process and findings, rather than the methods employed, which remain data collection techniques (Putnam, 1983, Llewellyn, 1993). By discussing methodology, we reveal our choices of method and define the way these choices fit the research problem (Dobbert, 1990). However, choices in research methodology can not be unproblematically explained away simply by recourse to a researcher’s beliefs and philosophical assumptions (cf. Burrell and Morgan, 1979; Chua, 1986; Guba, 1990; Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991).

Keywords

Information Technology Disciplinary Technology Information System Research Information Technol Organizational Reality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agar, M.H. (1980) The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography (Academic Press, New York).Google Scholar
  2. Applegate, L.M. (1994) Managing in an information age: transforming the organization for the 1990s, in Baskerville, R., Smithson, S., Ngwenyama, O. and DeGross, J.I. (eds) Transforming Organizations With Information Technology (North-Holland, Amsterdam) pp. 15–94.Google Scholar
  3. Bijker, W.E. and Law, J. (ed.) (1992) Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts).Google Scholar
  4. Bloomfield, B.P. (1991) The role of information systems in the UK National Health Service: action at a distance and the fetish of calculation. Social Studies of Science, 21(4),701–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bloomfield, B.P. (1995) Power, machines and social relations: delegating to information technology in the National Health Service. Organization, 2(3/4), pp. 489–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bloomfield, B.P. and Coombs, R. (1992) Information technology, control and power: the centralization and decentralization debate revisted. Journal of Management Studies, 29(4),459–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bloomfield, B.P. and McLean, C. (1996) Madness and organization: informed management and empowerment, in Orlikowski, W.J., Walsham, G., Jones, M.R. and Degross, J.I. (eds) Information Technology and Changes in Organizational Work (Chapman and Hall, London) pp. 371–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bloomfield, B.P., Coombs, R. and Owen, J. (1994a) The social construction of information systems: the implications for management control, in Mansell, R. (ed.) The Management of Information and Communication Technologies: Emerging Patterns of Control (Aslib, London) pp. 143–57.Google Scholar
  9. Bloomfield, B.P., Coombs, R. and Owen, J. (1994b) A social science perspective on information systems in the NHS, in Keen, J. (ed.) Information Management in Health Services (Open University Press, Buckingham) pp. 135–46.Google Scholar
  10. Boland, R.J., Jr (1979) Control, causality and information system requirements. Accounting Organizations and Society 4(4),259–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boland, R.J., Jr and Pondy, L.R. (1983) Accounting in organizations: a union of natural and rational perspectives. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 8(2/3), 223–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boland, R.J., Jr and Schultze, U. (1996). From work to activity: technology and the narrative of progress, in Orlikowski, W.J., Walsham, G., Jones, M.R. and DeGross, J.I. (eds) Information Technology and Changes in Organizational Work (Chapman and Hall, London) pp. 308–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Braverman, H. (1974) Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (Monthly Review Press, London).Google Scholar
  14. Burrell, G. (1988) Modernism, post modernism and organizational analysis 2: the contribution of Michel Foucault. Organizational Studies, 9(2),221–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burrell, G. and Morgan, G. (1979) Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis: Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life (Heinemann, London).Google Scholar
  16. Callon, M. and Latour, B. (1992) Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath school! A reply to Collins and Yearley, in Pickering, A. (ed.) Science as Practice and Culture (University of Chicago Press, Chicago) pp. 343–68.Google Scholar
  17. Chua, W.F. (1986) Radical developments in accounting thought. The Accounting Review 61(4),601–32.Google Scholar
  18. Chua, W.F. (1988) Interpretive sociology and management accounting — a critical review. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability, 1(2),59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chua, W.F. and Degeling, P. (1993) Interrogating an accounting-based intervention on three axes: instrumental, moral and aesthetic. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 18(4),291–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Clegg, S.R. (1989) Frameworks of Power (Sage, London).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coombs, R., Knights, D. and Willmott, H.C. (1992) Culture, control and competition; towards a conceptual framework for the study of information technology in organizations. Organization Studies, 13(1),51–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Covaleski, M.A., Dirsmith, M.W. and Michelman, J.E. (1993) An institutional theory perspective on the DRG framework, case-mix accounting systems and health-care organizations. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 18(1),65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Davies, A. and Kirkpatrick, I. (1995) Performance indicators, bureaucratic control and the decline of professional autonomy: the case of academic librarians, in Kirkpatrick, I. and Lucio, M.M. (eds) The Politics of Quality in the Public Sector: The Management of Change (Routledge, London) pp. 84–107.Google Scholar
  24. Dixon, J. and Kouzmin, A. (1994) The commercialisation of the Australian public sector: competence, elitism or default in management education? International Journal of Public Sector Management, 7(6),52–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dobbert, M.L. (1990). Discussion on methodology, in Guba, E.G. (ed.) The Paradigm Dialog (Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California) pp. 286–89.Google Scholar
  26. Doolin, B. (1996) Alternative views of case research in Information Systems. Australian Journal of Information Systems, 3(2),21–9.Google Scholar
  27. Doolin, B. (1998) Discourse, technology and organisation in a New Zealand Crown Health Enterprise. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Waikato, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  28. Dreyfus, H.L. and Rabinow, P. (1982) Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York).Google Scholar
  29. Drucker, P.F. (1988) The coming of the new organization. Harvard Business Review, 66, 45–53.Google Scholar
  30. Dyer, W.G., Jr and Wilkins, A.L. (1991) Better stories, not better constructs, to generate better theory: a rejoinder to Eisenhardt. Academy of Management Review, 16(3),613–19.Google Scholar
  31. Feinglass, J. and Salmon, J.W. (1990) Corporatization of medicine: the use of medical management information systems to increase the clinical productivity of physicians. International Journal of Health Services, 20(2),233–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Penguin, London).Google Scholar
  33. Foucault, M. (1980) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977 (Pantheon, New York).Google Scholar
  34. Foucault, M. (1981) The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (Penguin, London).Google Scholar
  35. Foucault, M. (1982) The subject and power, in Dreyfus, H.L. and Rabinow, P. (eds) Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York) pp. 208–26.Google Scholar
  36. Guba, E.G. (1990) The alternative paradigm dialog, in Guba, E.G. (ed.) The Paradigm Dialog (Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California) pp. 17–27.Google Scholar
  37. Harper, D. (1992) Small N’s and community case studies, in Ragin, C.C. and Becker, H.S. (eds) What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) pp. 139–59.Google Scholar
  38. Harvey, L.J. and Myers, M.D. (1995). Scholarship and practice: the contribution of ethnographic research methods to bridging the gap. Information Technology and People, 8(3),13–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Henwood, K.L. and Pidgeon, N.F. (1993) Qualitative research and psychological theorizing, in Hammersley, M. (ed.) Social Research: Philosophy, Politics and Practice (Sage, London) pp. 14–32.Google Scholar
  40. Hindess, B. (1996) Discourses of Power: From Hobbes to Foucault (Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  41. Hughes, J. A. (1990) The Philosophy of Social Research, (2nd edn) (Longman, London and New York).Google Scholar
  42. Hull, R. (1997) Governing the conduct of computing: computer science, the social sciences and frameworks of computing. Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, 7(4),213–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Humphrey, C., Miller, P. and Scapens, R.W. (1993) Accountability and accountable management in the UK public sector. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 6(3),7–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Joerges, B. and Czarniawska, B. (1998) The question of technology, or how organizations inscribe the world. Organization Studies, 19(3),363–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Johnson, T. (1993). Expertise and the state, in Gane, M. and Johnson, T. (eds) Foucault’s New Domains (Routledge, London) pp. 139–52.Google Scholar
  46. Jönsson, S. (1991). Action research, in Nissen, H.-E., Klein, H.K. and Hirschheim, R. (eds) Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions (North-Holland, Amsterdam).Google Scholar
  47. Jönsson, S. and Macintosh, N.B. (1997) CATS, RATS and EARS: making the case for ethnographic accounting research. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 22(3/4), 367–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kaplan, B. and Duchon, D. (1988) Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in information systems re-search: a case study. MIS Quarterly, 12(4),571–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kimble, C. and McLoughlin, K. (1994) Changes to the organisation and the work of managers following the introduction of an integrated information system, in Mansell, R. (ed.) The Management of Information and Communication Technologies: Emerging Patterns of Control. (Aslib, London) pp 157–77.Google Scholar
  50. Kling, R. (1980) Social analyses of computing: theoretical perspectives in recent empirical research. Computing Surveys, 12(1),61–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Knights, D. (1995) Refocusing the case study: the politics of research and researching politics in IT management. Technology Studies, 2(2),230–54.Google Scholar
  52. Knights, D. and Morgan, G. (1991) Corporate strategy, organizations and subjectivity: a critique. Organization Studies, 12(2),251–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Knights, D. and Murray, F. (1994) Managers Divided: Organization Politics and Information Technology Management (Wiley, Chichester).Google Scholar
  54. Knights, D. and Willmott, H. (1989) Power and subjectivity at work: from degradation to subjugation in social relations. Sociology, 23(4),535–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Latour, B. (1991) Technology is society made durable, in Law, J. (ed.) A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination (Routledge, London) pp. 103–31.Google Scholar
  56. Latour, B. (1994) On technical mediation — philosophy, sociology, genealogy. Common Knowledge, 3(2),29–64.Google Scholar
  57. Law, J. (1991) Introduction: monsters, machines and sociotechnical relations, in Law, J. (ed.) A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination (Routledge, London) pp. 1–23.Google Scholar
  58. Law, J. (1992) Notes on the theory of the actor-network: ordering, strategy, and heterogeneity. Systems Practice, 5(4),379–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Law, J. (1994) Organizing Modernity (Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  60. Law, J. and Mol, A. (1995) Notes on materiality and sociality. Sociological Review, 43(2),274–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lee, A.S. (1991) Integrating positivist and interpretive approaches to organizational research. Organization Science, 2(4),342–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lee, A.S., Liebenau, J. and DeGross, J.I. (ed.) (1997) Information Systems and Qualitative Research (Chapman and Hall, London).Google Scholar
  63. Lincoln, Y.S. and Guba, E.G. (1985) Naturalistic Inquiry (Sage, Beverly Hills).Google Scholar
  64. Llewellyn, S. (1993) Working in hermeneutic circles in management accounting research: some implications and applications. Management Accounting Research, 4, 231–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Lyon, D. (1988) The Information Society (Basil Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  66. MacKenzie, D.C. and Wajcman, J. (1985) The Social Shaping of Technology (Open University Press, Milton Keynes).Google Scholar
  67. Markus, M.L. (1981) Implementation politics: top management support and user involvement. Systems, Objectives, Solutions, 1, 203–15.Google Scholar
  68. Markus, M.L. and Robey, D. (1988) Information technology and organizational change: causal structure in theory and research. Management Science, 34(5),583–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Miles, R.E. and Snow, C.C. (1986) Networked organizations: new concepts for new forms. California Management Review, 28(3),62–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Miller, P. (1987) Domination and Power (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London).Google Scholar
  71. Miller, P. (1994) Accounting and objectivity: the invention of calculating selves and calculable spaces, in Megill, A. (ed.) Rethinking Objectivity (Duke University Press, Durham) pp. 239–64.Google Scholar
  72. Miller, P. and Rose, N. (1990) Governing economic life. Economy and Society, 19(1),1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Morgan, G. and Willmott, H. (1993) The ‘new’ accounting research: on making accounting more visible. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 6(4),3–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Mowshowitz, A. (1981) On approaches to the study of social issues in computing. Communications of the ACM, 24(3),146–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Mumford, E. and Weir, M. (1979) Computer Systems in Work Design — the ETHICS Method: Effective Technical and Human Implementation of Computer Systems, (Associated Business Press, London).Google Scholar
  76. Myers, M.D. (1997) Critical ethnography in information systems, in Lee, A.S., Liebenau, J. and DeGross, J.I. (eds) Information Systems and Qualitative Research (Chapman and Hall, London) pp. 276–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Myers, M.D. and Young, L.W. (1997) Hidden agendas, power and managerial assumptions in information systems development: an ethnographic study. Information Technology and People, 10(3),224–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Nandhakumar, J. and Jones, M. (1997) Too close for comfort? Distance and engagement in interpretive information systems research. Information Systems Journal, 7(2),109–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. O’Neill, J. (1987) The disciplinary society: from Weber to Foucault. British Journal of Sociology, 37(1),42–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Orlikowski, W.J. (1991) Integrated information environment or matrix of control? The contradictory implications of information technology. Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, 1(1),9–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Orlikowski, W.J. (1992) The duality of technology: rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science, 3(3),398–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Orlikowski, W.J. and Baroudi, J.J. (1991) Studying information technology in organizations: research approaches and assumptions. Information Systems Research, 2(1),1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Packwood, T., Keen, J. and Buxton, M. (1991) Hospitals in Transition: The Resource Management Experiment (Open University Press, Milton Keynes).Google Scholar
  84. Pettigrew, A.M. (1972) Information control as a power resource. Sociology, 6(2),187–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Pfeffer, J. (1994) Managing with Power (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts).Google Scholar
  86. Putman, L.L. (1983) The interpretive perspective: an alternative to functionalism, in Putnam, L.L. and Pacanowsky, M.E. (eds) Communication and Organizations: An Interpretive Approach (Sage, Beverly Hills) pp. 31–54.Google Scholar
  87. Rees, S. (1995) The fraud and the fiction, in Rees, S. and Rodley, G. (eds) The Human Costs of Managerialism: Advocating the Recovery of Humanity (Pluto Press, Liechhardt, NSW) pp. 15–27.Google Scholar
  88. Rockart, J.F. and Short, J.E. (1991) The networked organization and the management of interdependence, in Scott Morton, M. (ed.) The Corporation of the 1990s (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  89. Rose, N. and Miller, P. (1992) Political power beyond the State: problematics of government. British Journal of Sociology, 43(2),173–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Scarbrough, H. and Corbett, J.M. (1992) Technology and Organization: Power, Meaning and Design (Routledge, London).Google Scholar
  91. Scott Morton, M. (ed.) (1991) The Corporation of the 1990s (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  92. Sewell, G. and Wilkinson, B. (1992) ‘Someone to watch over me’: surveillance, discipline and the just-in-time labour process. Sociology, 26(2),271–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Thomas, J. (1993) Doing Critical Ethnography (Sage, Newbury Park, California).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Tinker, T. (1998). Hamlet without the prince: the ethnographic turn in information systems research. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 11(1),13–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Tinker, T. and Yuthas, K. (1994) Social change and theoretical structures in MIS. Fourth Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference, University of Manchester, 11–13 July.Google Scholar
  96. Walsham, G. (1993) Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations (Wiley, Chichester).Google Scholar
  97. Walsham, G. (1995) The emergence of interpretivism in IS research. Information Systems Research, 6(4),376–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Webster, F. and Robins, K. (1989) Plan and control: towards a cultural history of the Information society. Theory and Society, 18(3),323–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Webster, F. and Robins, K. (1993) ‘I’ll be watching you’: comment on Sewell and Wilkinson. Sociology, 27(2),243–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Whittington, R., McNulty, T. and Whipp, R. (1994) Market-driven change in professional services: problems and processes. Journal of Management Studies, 31(6),829–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Willmott, H. (1996) ‘Smart Machine derailed’ — engineers accuse passengers. Electronic Journal of Radical Organisational Theory. 2(2) at http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/depts/sm&l/journal/vol_3/willmott.htm.Google Scholar
  102. Winner, L. (1980) Do artifacts have politics? Daedalus, 109(1),121–36.Google Scholar
  103. Zuboff, S. (1988) In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Information Technology Trust 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Doolin
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Interdisciplinary Management StudiesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations