Journal of Information Technology

Document Type

Research Article


Software is acknowledged to be crucial in enabling the widespread diffusion of information technology (IT), but is inadequately dealt with in analyses of technological change and often misrepresented in accounts of IT phenomena. The tools that are used to analyse conventional innovation processes are found to be inappropriatte for software. The characteristics of software which present conceptual difficulty, and the features which drive change in the software development process are identified. Three lines of technological development in software are discussed: product diffusion, innovation in the organization and management of the development process, and innovation in technical practice. These reflect currently dominant and emergent trends, in particular the shift away from wholly custom-built towards packaged software; concern with process issues, including quality accreditation; and technical developments including CASE (computer aided software engineering) and object orientation. A framework is proposed which supports analysis of the distinctions and interactions between technical practice and organizational aspects of the development process, and also explains the interdependence between product diffusion and process innovation.