Theme

Despite decades of research and the accumulation of a substantial knowledge-base, the failure rate of information systems initiatives continues unabated. The recent abandonment of a multi-billion dollar project to computerize health records in the UK provides just one spectacular example. Why is this so? Is the fault one of theory and inadequate understanding? Or is the problem one of knowledge transfer, the failure to embed research knowledge in the working practices of managers and policy-makers. The aim of this conference is to move forward our understanding of the success and failure of technology-based innovation and on the factors influencing the uptake of research knowledge in the practitioner community.

Perhaps our theoretical base is too narrow. It is arguable that some theories, such as diffusion theory and the ubiquitous TAM, have been over-represented in our work. Or maybe we have become too infatuated with theory, making our work inaccessible to practice? Papers addressing theory in a critical way are therefore very welcome, presenting and illustrating alternative conceptual lenses and standpoints. Whilst grand successes and failures are important, papers addressing smaller initiatives will be just as welcome; indeed, perhaps there is much to be learned from considering questions of scale. Extending the variety of research methodologies is another area where innovation could assist progress. Finally, there are organisational and sectoral contexts that have also been relatively neglected. The bulk of our work has concentrated on commercial enterprises, yet the degree of contemporary IT-enabled change in the non-profit sectors is at least as great, and the challenges arguably stiffer.

Based on these general areas, some indicative themes might include:

  • Theoretical alternatives to diffusion theory: institutional theory, actor-network theory, contextualism, critical theory, complexity theory etc.
  • Empirical studies of “evidence-based management” , highlighting barriers and facilitators to the adoption of IS theory
  • Studies of emergent risk factors in high complexity projects, such as inter-organizational systems
  • The influence of organisational culture and climate on innovation uptake, including the interaction between multiple organisational contexts
  • Developments in diffusion theory to address organisational innovation as opposed to individual adoption decisions
  • Ethnographical studies of change, and other intensive longitudinal investigations (e.g. historical studies)
  • Studies using mixed method approaches
  • Action research investigations emphasising partnership with practice, including the pitfalls of such joint endeavours
  • E-government and public sector reform, emphasizing the role of IT as an enabler and the specific features of innovation in this domain
  • Exploring novel intra-organisational contexts, such as non-mandated innovation at middle management tiers & the front line (e.g. skunk works)
  • Success and failures of IS in the development context

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