Power and politics in the adoption of information systems by organisations: the case of a research centre in Latin America


This thesis applies contributions from the social sciences to the study of power to examine how and why organisations adopt information systems. Its main concern is the set of events, actions and factors that induce an information system to become routinised in the organisational life; that is how information systems become institutionalised. I argue that the actions and events that lead to the adoption and subsequent institutionalisation of an information system are politically motivated and facilitated by power relations because information systems are chiefly instruments used by organisational actors to achieve their goals. To develop the argument I have adapted and interpreted a model rooted in social and organisational sciences. This model is used as a theoretical framework for the collection and analysis of data of two case studies. the first case centres on the collapse of the London Ambulance Service in 1992. The second and major case study focuses on a research centre in Latin America. This case study accounts for the adoption and institutionalisation of three information systems in that organisation. The application of the theoretical framework constitute a contribution in researching power and politics of information systems because it illustrates how to link data to the theory. This thesis also contributes to the theory of power and information systems because the findings of the two case studies allowed us to make inferences that complement the original theoretical model. Furthermore, those findings are propositions that information systems practitioners might convert into useful principles in assessing the political base and power relationships of the organisation for which they work. The thesis concludes by asserting that the adoption and institutionalisation of an information system necessarily imply the exercise of power of those organisation actors that own or propose the system

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