Research Approaches Used in Information Systems Development Within an Organization
Research Approaches 1Research Approaches Used in Information Systems Development within Organizations Edgardo Donovan ITM 603 – Dr. Wenli Wang Module 5 – Case Analysis Monday, June 20, 2011
Research Approaches 2 Research Approaches Used in Information Systems Development within Organizations As information technology processes continue to evolve in step with ongoing technologyimprovements, researchers will continue to be challenged to offer theories, paradigms, andoperationalize variables related to systems development both from a behavioral and systemsdesign perspective to cater to the varied situational practitioner need for adaptive methodologiesto guide long term information technology investment. There has been a wide variety of research approaches used in information systemsdevelopment within organizations ever since the potential of information technology totransform organizations became a persistent theme in both the management and informationsystems literatures when computers were first introduced commercially in the 1950s. During the1990s, as computers became networked within and across organizations, prediction of virtualorganization emerged. More recently, the Internet has spawned still another set of projections forelectronic commerce among boundary-less organizations and intranet systems within them.Programs of business process reengineering have given way to broader agendas fororganizational transformation and knowledge management. (Robey 167). Two paradigmscharacterize much of the research in the information systems discipline: behavioral science anddesign science. The behavioral science paradigm seeks to develop and verify theories thatexplain or predict human or organizational behavior. The design science seeks to extend theboundaries of human and organizational capabilities by creating new and innovative artifacts.Both paradigms are foundational to the IS discipline, positioned as it is at the confluence ofpeople, organizations, and technology (March 75). Certain systems development methodologies
Research Approaches 3may also contain incompatible assumptions about the role of users and information systems (IS)personnel during systems development. Deconstruction can be useful in analyzing andinterpreting Information Engineering which is a design science oriented systems developmentmethodology currently receiving considerable attention. This methodologys characterization ofIS-user relations and, in particular, its recommended partitioning of responsibility between ISand users is inconsistent and contradictory. Despite a heavy emphasis on user involvement, usersare given a relatively passive role to play during development. At the same time, users areexpected to sign off on projects and take responsibility for project outcomes (Orlikowski 350).Other theoretical methodologies more closely aligned with the behavioral science paradigm willfocus more on user preferences. As a result, usability and resistance dynamics concerning newtechnology processes are often discussed as important variables concerning overall systemsdevelopment research. Resistance is a critical variable and is not entirely negatively correlated tonew system deployments as it can merely be a barrier to be removed or it also can be a means bywhich users communicate their discomfort with a system that might be flawed (Lapointe 462). Incertain instances user resistance to new technological processes are not merely considered asvalid usability concerns but may be the actual center of gravity regarding new technologyadoption. In contrast to a logic of determination, a logic of opposition explains organizationalchange by identifying forces both promoting change and impeding change through four specificindependent variables: organizational politics, organizational culture, institutional theory, andorganizational learning. Each variable is useful to the problem of explaining informationtechnologys role in an organization. Four methodological implication of using these concepts are
Research Approaches 4also discussed: empirical identification of opposing forces, statement of of opposing hypotheses,process research, and employing multiple interpretations (Robey 167). Academic literature involving the study of organizational IT adoption has seen a widerange of organization and task oriented centered methodological approaches both quantitativeand qualitative in nature. In an attempt to better explain resistance to information technologyimplementation, Lapointe used a multilevel longitudinal approach to determine five basiccomponents of resistance to new IT process implementation: behaviors, object, subject, threats,and initial conditions utilizing primarily a case study method to measure perceived threateningconsequences by users involved in new technology implementation (Lapointe 461). Thisqualitative approach posited that group opposition emerged primarily from individual resistancebehavior. This organizational based approach centering on macro-organizational dynamics wascontinued By Daniel Robey as he made the study of opposition forces central in his theoriesregarding new technology adoption. Theories implying a logic of opposition and the empiricalmethods associated with them account for contradictory findings in a different way thandeterministic theories and methods. Theories using a logic of opposition may be more interestingbecause they deny rather than affirm the common assumption of a consistent relationshipbetween technology and organization (Robey 168). Orlikowsky argued that although users areresponsible for signing off on the feasibility and functionality of IT processes they are given arelatively passive role during development. In his research it is argued that problems occur whenusers are marginalized especially because systems implementation should be task oriented ratherthan organizationally inclined process. Orlikowski studied the adoption and use of CASE toolsover time in two organizations. This study characterizes the organizations experiences in terms
Research Approaches 5of the processes of incremental and radical organizational change. The focus of this research is toderive theoretical interpretation from data rather than to test theory against data as is traditionallythe case (Orlikowski 356). Although the move towards the development and promotion of newIS development methodologies and the provision of tools for complete automation of the ISdevelopment process is continuing, many researchers call for more field studies to understandhow IS are developed in todays organizations and how well methodologies are used beforeproposing improvements or new methodologies (Orlikowski 354). March’s work is mostlyqualitative as he strives to provide a foundational research in the field of systems implementationresearch. Equal emphasis is placed on expanding knowledge and bridging the gap between thebehavioral and systems science paradigms. Relationships are examined between businessstrategy, information technology strategy, organizational infrastructure, and is infrastructure.How people interact with technology in an organizational setting considering development oftheories, artifacts, and methodologies (March 80). Orlikowski’s work aligns itself with the systems science oriented school of thought andconcludes that the relationship between users and IS personnel is problematic. The contradictionsin implementation methodologies reflect contradictions and ideologies in the context withinwhich systems development occurs. Important questions are raised about the relationshipbetween the production and consumption of information technology in organizations andwhether organizational aspirations are not properly aligned with user requirements (Orlikowski350). Similarly to Orlikowsky, March tries to orient discussions involving organizational uses ofIT away from the behavioral sciences and close to design science. Rather than focusing onpeople and organizational structures it is simpler as it is primarily task oriented. The design of an
Research Approaches 6artifact and an assessment of its utility often by comparison with competing artifacts are integralto design-science research (March 100). By taking a multilevel longitudinal perspective themodel not only explains the dynamics of group level resistance but also show how groupresistance behaviors emerge from individual behaviors. Limited internal validity because itfocuses on physicians and would have greater external validity if the studies were expanded toother environments outside a hospital setting (Lapointe 484). Robey’s Logic of Oppositiongreatest contribution is analyzing the interdependencies between the following nonoperationalized systems development variables: organizational politics (groups withincompatible interests engage in political activity using information technology as a resourcefrom which organizational changes emerge), organizational culture (information technologies areproduced and interpreted as cultural artifact that may symbolize a variety of beliefs, values, andassumptions), institutional theory (patterns and practices sustain an organizations legitimacy andare unlikely to change whereby information technologies may be adapted to institutionalpractices or used to reform them), and organizational learning (existing organizational memorymay impair new learning so information technologies both enable and disable organizationallearning) (Robey 173). Researchers tend to align themselves either closer to the behavioral science or designscience paradigms. Both paradigms are not mutually exclusive but merely have their center ofgravity either at the micro-level involving internal matters of user adoption or at the macro-levelof behavioral science analyzing the organizational culture and ecosystem of the organizationpursuing systems development. Cost overruns, missed efficiency targets, and downright failuresof IT implementations are not uncommon and are caused by different factors that may include
Research Approaches 7varying levels of organizational focused myopia at the expense of user design and vice-versa.For example, an organization in an attempt to achieve a result leveraging technology mayactually implement a system that does not respond to the needs of its users. In another instance,an organization may implement an appreciated highly usable system for its users that misses themark in delivering the functionality required for its overall success within its ecosystem. Given that technology will continue to progress, cost a lot of money, and provideopportunities for both failing and successful IT process implementations the academiccommunity will continue to have positive incentives to define paradigms that approach ITdevelopment both from the behavioral and systems design perspectives. Overall utility of futureresearch will be in the eye of the consumer depending on the situational utility of themethodologies offered. As information technology processes continue to evolve in step with ongoing technologyimprovements, researchers will continue to be challenged to offer theories, paradigms, andoperationalize variables related to systems development both from a behavioral and systemsdesign perspective to cater to the varied situational practitioner need for adaptive methodologiesto guide long term information technology investment.
Research Approaches 8 BibliographyBeath, C.M. and Orlikowski, W.J. (1994): The contradictory structure of systems developmentmethodologies: deconstructing the IS-user relationship. Information Systems Research, 5(4),350-377.Hevner, A.R., March, S. T., Park, J. and Ram, S. (2004). Design science in information systemsresearch. MIS Quarterly, March 2004, pp.75-108Lapointe, L. and Rivard, S. (2005). A multilevel model of resistance to information technologyimplementation. MIS Quarterly, September, 2005, pp.461-492.Robey, D. and Boudreau, M.-C. (1999): Accounting for the contradictory organizationalconsequences of information technology: theoretical directions and methodological implications.Information Systems Research, vol. 10, no. 2 (June), pp.167-186.