Information Technology and Organizational Change: Causal Structure in Theory and Research
This article concerns theories about why and how information technology affects organizational life. Good theory guides research, which, when applied, increases the likelihood that information technology will be employed with desirable consequences for users, organizations, and other interested parties. But what is a good theory? Theories are often evaluated in terms of their content---the specific concepts used and the human values served. This article examines theories in terms of their structures---theorists' assumptions about the nature and direction of causal influence. Three dimensions of causal structure are considered---causal agency, logical structure, and level of analysis. Causal agency refers to beliefs about the nature of causality: whether external forces cause change, whether people act purposefully to accomplish intended objectives, or whether changes emerge unpredictably from the interaction of people and events. Logical structure refers to the temporal aspect of theory---static versus dynamic---and to the logical relationships between the "causes" and the outcomes. Level of analysis refers to the entities about which the theory poses concepts and relationships---individuals, groups, organizations, and society. While there are many possible structures for good theory about the role of information technology in organizational change, only a few of these structures can be seen in current theorizing. Increased awareness of the options, open discussion of their advantages and disadvantages, and explicit characterization of future theoretical statements in terms of the dimensions and categories discussed here should, we believe, promote the development of better theory.
Volume (Year): 34 (1988)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.informs.org/
More information through EDIRC
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:5:p:583-598. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.