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Abstract

This paper investigates the concept of decoupling in neo- institutional theory. Through a case analysis of the development of a Management Information System (MIS) in a local health care organization in Norway, I analyzed processes of coupling-decoupling occurring during the process of development. I found that the theoretical dichotomy between the symbolic and technological inherent in the concept of decoupling conceals the relational connections between them. Using Actor-Network Theory I argue that decoupling can be considered a special case of coupling. I conclude, that to understand e-government reforms, we have to move beyond the dominant notion of IT as an enabling role. Power and politics are involved in the process of development and use. We have to take seriously that the recognition of IT as a tool is a very dominant notion and that in practice it is not easily considered as a resource invested in and used by the actors within their ongoing power game. This should be an element in our analysis. If it is not, we turn into researchers in the hand of those who need IT to enhance their interests.

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