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Paper Topic:

What does social informatics tell us about the difficulties of implementing information technologies in organizations?

Social Informatics and Technology Implementation

A holistic approach

Implementing new technologies can be an expensive undertaking for businesses . Many businesses have tried to capitalize on the latest technologies only to realize little or no benefit to the company . When returns on technological investment do not materialize , a productivity gap ' exists

By analyzing implementation failures from a social perspective , Kling and other researchers have taken a holistic approach to IT implementation . The questions they ask come from common sense and experience . Hard research exists , but it is only now being consolidated

br into a cohesive field of study

Technological Determinism vs . Social Informatics

The theory of technological determinism implies that technology is autonomous and it , by itself , can create social change . Whereas social theorists see technology as a force that can change society technological determinists see it as the core of society itself Technological determinists may , as a result , conclude that technology is a threat rather than a benefit . With this perspective , implementing technology effectively is a difficult proposition

Other theorists see technology as a tool for good change , but only if used correctly . Social informatics theorists focus , in a humanistic way on the factors that make technology effective or ineffective . Most of what has been learned is through examination of failed uses of technology . Kling (1999 ) illuminates the need for a social informatics approach

This (social informatics ) contrasts with highly spirited but largely

priori promotions of technologies that occasionally work well

for people , occasionally are valuable , are sometimes abandoned

are sometimes unusable , and thus incur predictable waste and

inspire misplaced hopes (13

Both social informatics and technological determinism recognize that technology has profound social effects . Social informatics , in contrast also states that some societal factors will change very slowly or not at all . This is something that designers must take into account

Social Informatics- Theory and Structure

Systematic research about social informatics is still in its infancy The research that has been done is not readily accessible to the layperson , except in watered-down form . Rob Kling and a number of other researchers have arrived at an agreed upon definition . From Learning from Social Informatics (2000

Social Informatics refers to the interdisciplinary study if the design

uses and consequences of ICT 's that takes into account their

interaction with institutional and cultural contexts (2

The need for social informatics has been questioned by some theoreticians and , more importantly , the people directly responsible for implementation . Proponents of a social informatics approach cite convincing evidence that technology has not lived up to its hype , in terms of the overall productivity of businesses

Kraemer and Dedrick (2001 , describe the emergence of the productivity paradox

The whole issue arose over a decade ago , when Nobel Prize winning

Economist , Robert Solow , famously remarked . You can see the

computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics (2

Why has technology failed to produce its expected effect ? That is what Social Informatics theoreticians are trying to determine . It seems obvious that technology alone does not create an instant benefit...

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