Affiliated Organization

Proceedings of JAIS Theory Development Workshop


In this paper we argue that a combination of a social actor model, Institutional theory, and a model of unobtrusive power can constitute a theoretical framework for understanding how the business client is able to exercise control and subsequent subjugation of developers in the systems development process. Specifically, the paper develops a 3-level theoretical framework grounded in institutional theory that integrates elements of Lamb and Kling’s social actor model and Scott’s 3-pillars framework concentrating on the relationships among systems developers, the business client, the SDM, and the context surrounding its use. The framework is strengthened through the application of a third level – Hardy’s multi-dimensional model of power, offering explanations of political inactivity by developers. In this paper we discuss how all three theory can be combined in a framework for analyzing the power relations between developers and the business client. We apply this theoretical framework in a case study of the deployment of a mandated in-house developed systems development methodology in a large IT department of a major Australian bank Here we will show how, from the perspective of developers, the business client exercise both overt and unobtrusive power over the development process.