Negotiating Tensions between Theory and Practice
Edited by Julie Wolfram Cox, Tony G. LeTrent-Jones, Maxim Voronov and David Weir
Chapter 3: Emancipatory Practice and Information Systems Implementation: An Action Research Project in an NHS Acute Trust
Teresa Waring This chapter explores what it means to conduct critical research in the area of integrated Information Systems (IS) implementation. The work that is described here was initially inspired by Hirschheim and Klein (1989), Kendall and Avison (1993) and Alvesson and Willmott (1992), where the concept of ‘emancipation’ features highly and is underpinned by the theoretical ideas from the work of Jürgen Habermas. According to Alvesson and Willmott (1992, pp. 432): [E]mancipation describes the process through which individuals and groups become freed from repressive social and ideological conditions, in particular those that place socially unnecessary restrictions upon the development and articulation of the human consciousness. . . . Emancipation necessarily involves an active process (or struggle) for individual and collective self-determination. . . . Any substantial and lasting form of emancipatory change must involve a process of critical self-reflection and associated self-transformation. The research illustrated in this chapter has aimed to critically investigate potential emancipatory principles for systems analysis, design and development, synthesized from the wider literature, and then to translate these principles into practice within the context of IS implementations. Fundamentally, this has been through an exploration of the changing role of the systems analyst to enhance participant communication and discourse during the implementation process. The research took place over a five-year period and included four major integrated systems implementations within three hospitals in the North East of England. This chapter focuses on the final implementation where the hospital (Hospital Z) wanted to integrate both the manual and computer systems within the...
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