Journal of Information Technology

Document Type

Research Article


Information systems (IS) are centrally important to the modern form of organization, but their impacts are not yet well understood. IS development is, in general, grounded in a quasi-scientific ‘formal-rationalism’, oriented chiefly towards technical aspects; yet the accompanying difficulties in implementation are due for the most part to ‘people problems’. In defining an IS as a computer system embedded in an organization, this paper argues that information systems are not purely technical systems, but also social systems. Consequently, work in this area necessitates an interactionist approach, taking the effects of information technology to be a product of neither the technical nor social aspects alone, but of their interaction. Evaluation is shaped, similarly, by the interaction of technique with social process: it is a multi-stage activity running through IS development. The history of IS development in the Processing Company illustrates these views and highlights the dysfunctionality of the formal-rational perspective.