Choices En Route to the Office of Tomorrow
Most of the chapters in this book have reported studies on the impact of information technology (e.g., data processing systems, decision support systems, office automation systems, etc.). The results have shown that there is very little determinism at play. Most changes are contingent upon other factors--both planned and accidental (cf. Bjørn-Andersen, Eason, & Robey, 1986; Kling, 1980b). The ways in which new technology transform white- collar work depend greatly on which technology is chosen, who chooses it, how it is designed and installed, how it is used and what it is used for.The purpose of this chapter is to summarize what we believe to be the most important lessons of "impact research" in a way that we hope will provoke our readers into carefully considering seven fundamental choices:
This chapter presents and illustrates seven fundamental choices that are always made, explicitly or implicitly, when planning, designing, buying, and implementing office technology. The authors challenge users, management, and design teams--especially systems analysts and programmers--to heed the lessons of impact research: The costs and benefits of information technology are determined by technical, social, and political choices, many of which can be made in individual organizations. What is more, technology that supports and develops all white-collar employees--regardless of their status--usually benefits the organization as a whole. Conversely, oppressive technology often is bad for the organization--and for society, as well.
|How broadly one defines the scope of the design and implementation process,|