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Abstract

A common thread in recent discussions of organisational change is the importance of the role allocated to information technology in the realisation of such change. It is a feature of many of these discussions that IT is handled in a somewhat simplistic fashion, often with a pronounced theoretical leaning resulting in "the case of the disappearing technology". Even empirical studies of new technology often fail to pay attention to the actual details of technology in use, instead focusing upon the part technology might play in producing certain managerial or workplace configurations that are themselves theoretical renderings of organisational life. By way of contrast, this paper presents some results from a long-term empirical investigation of computer systems in use in financial services that specifically aims to focus upon the actual details of technology in use. In addition it attempts to address conventional concerns with the relationship between new technology and 'skill', productivity and other factors in a rather different fashion by focusing on the issue of 'legacy'. We present a number of examples of legacy issues and try to delineate their impact on everyday working life. 'Legacy', we argue, is not just a problem encountered by organisations with aging mainframes and dated software, it is an issue from the moment a computer system becomes an integral part of any organisation's everyday work.

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