It has been argued that the rise of professions in society has been on the increase for over a century, to the extent that they are seen as integral to post-industrial society. Yet, within information systems minimal research has considered users as professionals. Instead, professions and professionalism as units of analysis have usually been intertwined with discussions of IT workers and systems development. In this paper, we focus on professionals as a user group and consider the implications of the deployment of IT in such contexts. In particular, we attend to the influence of technology on a central feature of professional identity – autonomy. In order to do this, we discuss the deployment of a module of an enterprise-wide student information system in a department of a UK university. From this come insights into regulation through inscription, the deskilling of work, system acceptance in the face of self-interest, the retention of autonomy in a regulated environment and the overt exercise of professional power. Whilst the student information system had an effect on professional identity, within our study, it appears that any encroachment upon autonomy has, overall, been viewed as minimal or easily managed. We suggest that future work might focus upon much more contentious sites of IT roll out where professionals exist – where they feel and experience much more significant effects.
Burns, Beryl; Light, Ben; and Adam, Alison, "Users as professionals: A study of IT deployment and its relationship to professional Autonomy" (2006). ECIS 2006 Proceedings. 7.