The Information Systems (IS) field has not consistently dealt with the importance of power in theory, research, or practice, because of epistemological and theoretical challenges for studying power in IS. In responding to these issues, we develop an accessible “power-sensitive” framework, using the Episodic/Systemic view of power and an Activity Theory (AT) view of organizational practices. We draw on two cases of IS work. Case one focuses on information technology (IT) organizations in Bulgaria, the case two on a global development sector non-government organization (NGO) in Thailand. Much of the IS literature emphasizes cutting-edge innovations; in contrast, this paper highlights mundane yet widespread IS applications, such as email and spreadsheets. We elaborate on lessons learned from the cases and develop a power-sensitive framework to support IS researchers and practitioners who aim to acknowledge power in different IS contexts. The paper has two main aims and contributions: to illustrate how power can be articulated using the episodic/systemic view and AT by providing a more dynamic perspective that goes beyond traditional views of power as possessive, hierarchical and static; and to deploy the cases strategically as part of a broader call for more consideration of power in IS research and to the important insights such a focus can provide. We argue against simply ignoring power or considering it as a “nuisance” in IS research. Instead, we argue that power is endemic to IS work and an integral aspect of everyday IS practices. We characterize this view of power as ‘present-in-actions’ in IS.
Simeonova, Boyka; Kelly, Paul R.; Karanasios, Stan; and Galliers, Robert D., "Power as ‘present-in-actions’ in mundane information systems work" (2024). JAIS Preprints (Forthcoming). 128.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais_preprints/128