Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research
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Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research

Theory and Application

Edited by Debra Howcroft and Eileen M. Trauth

This important Handbook provides a unique overview of information systems (IS) research by focusing on the increasing interest in critical-related issues.
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Chapter 14: Rationalities and Emotions in IS Innovation

Chrisanthi Avgerou and Kathy McGrath


Chrisanthi Avgerou and Kathy McGrath Introduction The information systems (IS) field is saturated with technical/rational thinking on the development and role of information and communication technology (ICT) amidst the dynamics of contemporary organizations. The take-up of ICT in organizations is studied as a process of technical reasoning and acting governed by a mix of concerns about the engineering of software and other ICT artefacts, administrative control and economic gain. The knowledge developed to address each of these concerns has the form of a closed system of reasoning geared to specific ends. Assuming the desirability of technology innovation, survival and growth of selfgoverned organizational units of work, and economic maximization in free market conditions, the engineering, the administrative and the economic rationalities determine consistent plans of action for their optimal achievement. Nevertheless, as the technology construction, administrative integrity and economic gain are invariably intertwined in ICT innovation, the currently prevalent instrumental knowledge on IS tends to combine these three rationalities in complex techno-economic reasoning. The literature on systems development, IS planning and outsourcing is concerned with strategies and tactics of a combined effort towards a desirable technological, managerial and economic effect. Of course the IS field is well aware of the shortcomings of its core of instrumental knowledge. A constant theme in IS research on pragmatic obstacles that erode the integrity of professionals’ rational interventions has made widely noticeable a persistent malaise with symptoms such as ‘user resistance’ and multiple forms of system ‘failures’ (Keen 1981; Sauer 1999). A stream...

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