Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


A considerable degree of user participation is found in current system development and implementation projects i Scandinavia. Obviously, there is a strong belief in the necessity of user participation. Still, practitioners and researchers face severe problems in defining the right way of involvement. Still, there is a lack of convincing empirical evidence concerning the rela tionship between user participation and systems success. In this article we argue that participation is of little use if the agenda excludes organizational issues. If only technical options are discussed, fundamental problems in the organization may remain unsolved.

Partly based on empirical findings from a comparative Danish study, this article analyzes how participation may change with the changing relations between user, user organization and IS-professionals. We find that the useful ness of participation is highly dependent on user type and organizational function. Different projects require different agendas and participants. In some cases indirect users are the most important when it comes to fundamen tal improvements, and they are often excluded from participation.

We propose a framework that explicitly focuses on the process from problem to issue on the agenda and we conclude that it is time to change the agenda for user participation. To help in clarifying the emerging roles of users and IS-professionals, the research agenda may be changed as well.