It is widely accepted that users should be involved in interactive systems development. However, involving users is often difficult and quite rare in software development organizations, especially in the context of product development, referring to the development of commercial software products or systems. This paper critically examines the position of user involvement in three software development organizations that operate in the product development context. Through analysis of the empirical, qualitative material gathered from the case organizations, five distinct discourses on user involvement are identified. The discourses are (1) user centered- ness as a tradition, (2) user involvement as imago factor and selling argument, (3) user involvement as a waste of time and money, (4) user involvement as a controllable and measurable quality improvement effort, and (5) user involvement achievable through persuading, marketing and manipulating. These discourses construct user involvement in different ways in these organizational settings. Furthermore, the discourses can be related to the wider discursive field in which the human-computer interaction community participates and contributes. Some of these discourses can be criticized from the Scandinavian tradition of systems design of being forms of technological colonialism and in some cases merely silencing the users instead of giving them a voice.
Iivari, Netta, "Exploring the Rhetoric on Representing the User: Discourses on User Involvement in Software Development" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 52.