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Organizational Knowledge and Technology

An Action-Oriented Perspective on Organization and Information Systems

Rodrigo Magalhães

This book attempts to make sense of a new area of integrated study, namely information systems and information technology (IS/IT) and the organization. It also aims to bring this mix into the broader theme of complexity as applied to organization and management and to draw useful conclusions about how to organize and how to manage IS/IT in the knowledge era. The author argues in favour of a more action-oriented – as opposed to planning dominated – approach to information systems management.
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Chapter 8: Notes on IS/IT Strategic Development

Rodrigo Magalhães


Can we expect ‘frameworks’ and ‘methodologies’ to show anything other than the palest shadow of organizational complexity? This dynamic and ambiguous complexity of an organization’s future just cannot be reduced to such simplistic data structures, which imply a tidy and convenient homogeneity in organizations that is just not there. (Angell and Smithson, 1991: 35–6) INTRODUCTION In 1991, at the height of the of the Porterian strategic planning era, a book entitled Information Systems Management: Opportunities and Risks by Angell and Smithson was published. In it the authors state: ‘the myth of “being in control”, so readily demonstrated in many failed applications of information technology, illustrates the related folly of believing in rigidly proactive management’ (p. 47). The message did not attract much attention at the time and the thinking from Harvard and the MIT on strategic planning of IS/IT has prevailed as the dominant paradigm till now. But 12 years later, what do we have? More cost-effective use of IS/IT resources? Less IS/IT-related failures in managerial terms? A more friendly attitude towards IS/IT in general, from the managerial cadre? The answer seems to be no to all three questions. The experience of consultancy projects in IS/IT strategy, planning and implementation, at least outside the context of US companies, does show that the results from a great many investments in IS/IT are still very disappointing. The area still lacks credibility in the eyes of decision makers and the main reason for such a state of affairs is the huge gap...

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