Antagonism between non-technical managers in business (users) and the technical experts who develop computer systems (data processing staff) has been an ongoing organizational concern for over 20 years. The enduring and widespread nature of this problem suggests that the user-DP relationship is more complex than has traditionally been supposed. Most explanations for this problem examine only the features of the relationship (e.g., poor communication) and not its underlying social and organizational causes. Social theories suggest that power influences the way groups interact, particularly when one group is in a more powerful position than the other. However, problems in conceptualizing power have meant that little empirical research has been done in this area. This study explores how power influences the attitudes of users and data processing managers towards each other in a large Canadian corporation. It uses a contextual conceptualization of power which enables examination of attitudes at three different levels of analysis: social, organizational and individual. The findings show that power, and the context in which it operates, does influence attitudes in each group but in different ways. User-data processing attitudes appear to reflect the unequal distribution of power between these groups in this organization. This would suggest that attempts to improve user-DP attitudes will only work if they somehow alter their power relationship.
Smith, Heather, "THE USER-DATA PROCESSING RELATIONSHIP: A STUDY IN POWER AND ATTITUDES" (1989). ICIS 1989 Proceedings. 3.