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A socio-cognitive theory of information systems and initial applications

Hemingway, Christopher John (1999) A socio-cognitive theory of information systems and initial applications. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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Much has been written in the academic literature about designing information systems (IS) to satisfy organizational, rather than purely technical, objectives. The design of systems to address the requirements of end-users has also received considerable attention. Little has been said, however, about the relationship between these two facets of "best practice'' and how they might be reconciled. This is of concern because the relationship is fundamental to the success of organizational systems, the value of which is ultimately realized through the activities of individuals and workgroups. The practical benefit of achieving an integrated approach is clear. Systems can be developed in light of the relationship between worker and organization, rather than as a result of a compromise between two `competing' viewpoints. An integrated theory would also reduce the conceptual distance between current conceptions of individuals, which tend to downplay their status as social beings, and of social organizations, which often overestimate the influence of social organization on individuals' actions. A process of conceptual analysis and theory development that addresses this disjunction is presented in this thesis. As the main contribution of this research, the socio-cognitive theory of information systems is a first attempt at providing an integrated treatment of IS phenomena. The theory is developed using a dialectic research method by drawing upon existing work in human-computer interaction, information systems, psychology and sociology. Following a consideration of dialectic as a research method, it is applied to existing conceptions of the individual and of social organization in these disciplines. The theory is then constructed to provide an explanation of information systems phenomena in socio-cognitive, rather than social and cognitive, terms. Having presented the theory, its potential contribution to realizing the practical benefits of integrated approaches to IS development is illustrated through the development of a systems development lifecycle and an evaluation methodology. Recognizing that IS development is primarily concerned with the relationship between individuals and social organizations, the lifecycle model focuses attention on addressing skills issues during the development process. Extending the focus on skills and intersubjective communication, the evaluation methodology outlines a method, consistent with the socio-cognitive theory, for analysing working practices and assessing the impacts upon them of IS-related change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Supplied directly by the School of Computing, University of Leeds.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Computing (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.528795
Depositing User: Dr L G Proll
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 16:20
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1280

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