Learning with Information Systems: Learning Cycles in Information Systems Development

By Simon Bell | Go to book overview

4

SELECTING THE RESEARCH APPROACH

This chapter discusses various research approaches which are available for testing the question set out in Chapter 3 and examines their respective values in general terms. Leading on from this, an action research framework is established, within which the Multiview methodology, as detailed in Chapter 2, will be applied. Chapters 1 and 2 discussed the importance of the analyst as part of the research process. This chapter introduces a self-analysis tool which provides information on how the researcher has arrived at the current situation and the types of prejudices and assumptions which he or she may bring into the research context. It is argued that these factors are important in understanding the nature of analysis and design undertaken in the field, and they are shown to be valuable in developing and modifying the researcher’s approach. The self-analysis tool is developed in the course of Chapters 5, 6 and 7 and evaluated in Chapter 8.


APPROACHES TO RESEARCH: REDUCTIONISM AND HOLISM

The purpose of this chapter is to set out the nature and value of the research approach used in the fieldwork. Understanding and applying research techniques within a research approach is important for the main task of defining, developing and implementing working information systems. Setting up an information system requires the analyst to undertake research. Research skills are needed in order to understand problems, deduce the strengths and weaknesses of the environment, plan a new system and test it prior to implementation.

The term ‘research’ means ‘to search, examine or study with diligence or care’ (Webster’s New International Dictionary). The assessment of research approaches has been an undervalued element in research on information systems development in the past. Galliers (1992) has stressed its importance, noting that ‘The state of much information systems research has been criticised from the perspective of the almost unthinking use of a

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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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