Designers’ failure to understand situated work practices is one of the reasons for the high implementation failure rate of information systems (e.g., Grudin 1994; Suchman 1995). There are thus numerous calls for IS practitioners and researchers to study work practices in order to understand the fundamental patterns of behavior that will ultimately determine a technology's intended and unintended consequences (Barley 1988; Blomberg et al. 1993; Brown and Duguid 1991; Davenport, Jarvenpaa, and Beers 1996). Studying practices requires a focus on the mundane detail of everyday life so as to uncover the local habits, assumptions, and tacit knowledge that members of the social group have difficulty articulating (Turner 1994). This has theoretical and methodological implications. Theoretically, a practice orientation suggests that the causes for human action are situated, local, and socially constructed. Methodologically, a practice orientation relies upon the interpretation of largely observational data collected over an extended period of time. It thus calls for field-based ethnographic research. Even though calls for a practice orientation persist, what is meant by practice remains ambiguous. The purpose of this panel is to explore the meanings of practice from four theoretical perspectives. These are Giddens’ structuration theory, Bourdieu’s theory of practice, Foucault’s discursive and disciplinary practices, and the role of narrative in constructing coherence and a shared sense of practice in systems of distributed cognition. Examples from the panelists' empirical research will be used to illustrate each of these perspectives.
Schultze, Ulrike; Boland, Richard; Harvey, Lynda; and Karsten, Helena, "Panel 2 Four Perspectives for Understanding Work Practices: Giddens, Bourdieu, Foucault, and Narrative" (1998). ICIS 1998 Proceedings. 51.