Learning with Information Systems: Learning Cycles in Information Systems Development

By Simon Bell | Go to book overview

1

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Examples of issues in information systems

Kathmandu area, Nepal, 1989. A road construction site some way from the city. Yet another landfall has occurred which has brought the road construction operation to a standstill. The road is closed but business goes on. In this area, so distant from modern forms of communication, within minutes hoards of sherpas have appeared and are carrying goods from stranded lorries, around the precipitous fall which has opened in the newly made road, and on to awaiting transport on the other side. The sherpas (the ones carrying cement sacks are snow white from the dust) appear to need no command hierarchy or logistics systems; they appear and disappear as the road network (or lack of it) requires and demands. Computers are used for the engineering side of road construction. The one in the site office is at this moment printing out a ten-page report detailing the nature and degree of the landfall. The indigenous system gets on with keeping business moving.

Lagos, Nigeria, 1992. The Head Office of one of the major banks. The bank is full of people attempting to do business. The temperature and humidity are making life very uncomfortable for those attempting to transact business. Queuing is the norm. Everyone queues for every item. You need to queue to get the approval of a bored and discourteous bank official in order to gain access to the next queue which might lead to the next bored person whom you actually need to do business with. Bribery (or ‘dashing’) or having a close relation who works in the bank helps. Overseeing the sweltering, uncomfortable bureaucracy hierarchically and literally from their gallery are a cadre of senior officials. They apparently have little to do. Indeed the bank seems to offer a paradox, queues of people being served by bored and underemployed staff. The interest of the senior staff is only kindled when there is a foreign currency transaction. Computers are around the place but seem to be underused. Business is done but it can take eight hours to withdraw a small amount of money.

-3-

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Learning with Information Systems: Learning Cycles in Information Systems Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures viii
  • Tables x
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • Summary of Contents xv
  • Part I - Introducing the Context 1
  • 1 - Introduction and Background 3
  • 2 - Information Systems and Planning in Developing Countries 30
  • Part II - The Question and the Approach 57
  • 3 - The Question for This Book 59
  • 4 - Selecting the Research Approach 62
  • Part III - Action-Research Learning 83
  • 5 - Learning Cycle 1: a Department of Roads 85
  • 6 - Learning Cycle 2: an Administrative Staff College 123
  • 7 - Learning Cycle 3: a Board for Technical Education 148
  • Part IV - Overview and Conclusions 175
  • 8 - An Overview of the Learning Process 177
  • 9 - The Next Steps 195
  • Notes 208
  • Bibliography 210
  • Index 224
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