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A TALE OF TWO TECHNOLOGIES: HUMAN AGENCY AND IT USAGE

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4 case studies. 22. ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT ... Top Gun. OCCUPATION. GENDER. CASE NAME. 25. DATA COLLECTION ... Interpretive case study. Grounded theory guided ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A TALE OF TWO TECHNOLOGIES: HUMAN AGENCY AND IT USAGE


1
A TALE OF TWO TECHNOLOGIES HUMAN AGENCY AND IT
USAGE
Daniel Robey Georgia State University
2
AGENDA
  • Review of Agency-Structure Issues
  • A Temporal Theory of Human Agency
  • Study 1 Mobile Users of Wireless Applications
  • Study 2 Stationary Users of ERP
  • Conclusions and Remaining Issues

3
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
  • Study 1 Karlene Cousins, Florida International
    University, PhD, 2004.
  • Study 2 Marie-Claude Boudreau, University of
    Georgia, PhD, 2000.

4
PUBLISHED VERSIONS
  • Cousins Robey, Human agency in a wireless
    world patterns of technology use in nomadic
    computing environments, Information and
    Organization, in press.
  • Boudreau Robey, Enacting integrated
    information technology a human agency
    perspective, Organization Science, Jan-Feb 2005.

5
INTERPRETIVE RESEARCH PARADIGM
  • Assumes people create their own subjective
    inter-subjective meanings as they interact with
    the world around them.

Epistemology
Ontology
6
MOTIVATION
  • Explaining the variety of organizational outcomes
    associated with IT
  • Advance the progression from technology-centered
    theory to theories of
  • Human agency
  • Social interpretation
  • Enactment

7
AGENCY-STRUCTURE ISSUES
  • Agency
  • Humans enact both technologies and structures.
  • Humans appropriate technologies for local
    purposes.
  • Human reinvent and improvise uses of technologies.
  • Structure
  • Social structures constrain human action.
  • Social agendas are inscribed into technologies.
  • Technologies embody structural constraints on
    action.

8
MIDDLE GROUND POSITIONS
  • Structuration Theory
  • Structure and agency operate as a duality.
  • Technologies both constrain and enable human
    action.
  • Technologies are constituted by human agency
    while they constraint/enable human action.
  • Actor Network Theory
  • Strong symmetry between human and technical
    agents (actants).
  • Material agency.

9
AGENCY, STRUCTURE AND TECHNOLOGY
Social Structure
Inscribe
Embody
Constitutes Reproduces
Technology
Enables Constrains
Enact Appropriate
Design Build
Human Agency
10
TEMPORAL THEORY OF HUMAN AGENCY (Emirbayer
Mische, 1998)
  • Actors are simultaneously oriented in the past,
    future and present.
  • Past iterational element
  • Future prospective element
  • Present practical-evaluative element

11
FOCUS ON DILEMMAS
  • In the present, the elements of past and future
    come together along with practical contingencies.
  • Action in the present represents multiple
    influences
  • What I want to do or become
  • What is comfortable and familiar
  • What I actually have to do now

12
TEMPORAL TRIAD
13
EMPHASIS ON AGENCY OVER STRUCTURE
  • Iterational agency supplants social structure as
    an influence on action.
  • However, choice is affected by social influence,
    as exercised through networks and structures.

14
STUDY 1 AGENCY IN A NOMADIC COMPUTING ENVIRONMENT
  • Nomadic Computing Environment
  • The system support needed to provide computing
    and communication capabilities and services to
    nomads as they move from place to place in a
    manner that is transparent, integrated,
    convenient and adaptive (Kleinrock 2001).
  • Enabled by mobile, wireless technologies.

15
SOCIAL ISSUES BOUNDARY MANAGEMENT
  • Rhetoric of freedom from temporal and spatial
    constraints.
  • Mobile IT as liberator or leash?
  • Personal versus business boundaries become
    blurred.
  • Interruptions.
  • Access anywhere-anytime becomes access
    everywhere-all the time.

16
EFFECTIVENESS PARADOX
  • USERS EXPERIENCE INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY.
  • USE DESCRIBED AS PROBLEMATIC AND CONTRADICTORY.

How can the increased productivity and social
concerns be reconciled?
17
DIMENSIONS OF MOBILITY
18
NOMADIC COMPUTING FRAMEWORK
Home
Road
Office
Business
Personal
TIME
19
INTERPLAY OF SPACE,TIME CONTEXT
Home
Road
Office
Business
Personal
T1
TIME
20
MULTIPLE CASE ANALYSIS
  • Unit of analysis was the individual.
  • Replication strategy.
  • Longitudinal retrospective studies combined.
  • Findings in retrospective cases can be confirmed
    in longitudinal cases.
  • Theoretical account evolves as the cases add
    insights.

21
CASE SELECTION
  • Purposive sampling representative cases--good
    representations of the nomadic computing user
    population
  • Mobile 50 of the time
  • 4 case studies

22
ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT
  • Home Lender Large Southeastern US Mortgage
    Finance Institution formed in 1985.
  • 1 online lender in 2002.
  • All loan officers initially given the same
    nomadic computing environment.
  • Use of composition book a prevalent practice
    since 1985
  • 1995 Laptop loan origination began
  • 1999 Corporate applications leveraged by
    Internet technologies
  • Web based loan application integrated with
    Outlook.
  • Controlled for institutional technical
    environment.

23
THREE LEVELS OF ADOPTION
TOTAL
STAGE 3 Enables a new business capability e.g.,
home healthcare, machine to machine (M2M), new
forms of collaboration.
VALUE
Integration With Business Process
STAGE 2 Supports an existing process e.g. sales,
field service, inspection, delivery, tracking.
STAGE 1 Horizontal applications e.g., e-mail,
messaging, imaging.
None
Technology Sophistication
Low
High
Source Gartner
24
4 CASES
25
DATA COLLECTION
  • Collected over 6 month period (10/03 to 03/04).
  • Observations.
  • Meetings arranged at remote locations to
    facilitate observations.

26
RESULTS
If I have the time to think, its not about
technology. Its about how I can bring in more
business..
27
TOP GUN
  • TASK OF ANSWERING CALLS, RETRIEVING VOICE MAIL
    AND USING SOME FEATURES OF OUTLOOK DELEGATED TO
    ASSISTANT. CONTRIBUTES TO ELIMINATION OF
    COMPOSITION BOOK.
  •  ALERTS OF UPCOMING APPOINTMENTS GENERATED IN
    OUTLOOK SENT TO PAGER BY ASSISTANT. 
  • PHONE PREFERRED FOR OUTGOING COMMUNICATION.
  • VOICE MAIL USED AS RECORDING DEVICE.
  •  DIARY REPLICATES DETAILS IN OUTLOOK.
  • ASSISTANT ASSIGNED TASK OF MANAGING OUTLOOK
    SCHEDULE.
  • LAPTOP LEFT BEHIND TO BE MONITORED WHILE ON
    VACATION.
  •  UPCOMING ACQUISITION OF WIRELESS MODEM PREDICTED
    TO INCREASE EFFICIENCY. DEVICE IS A PLUG-IN TO
    THE LAPTOP REQUIRING NO SIGNIFICANT TIME
    INVESTMENT.
  • NO INTENTION TO ACQUIRE BLACKBERRY DEVICE BECAUSE
    OF TIME REQUIRED TO LEARN HOW TO USE IT.
  •  ACQUISITION OF WIRELESS MODEM INSTALLATION OF
    HOME WIRELESS NETWORK FACILITATES WORK IN OTHER
    PLACES APART FROM HOME OFFICE.
  • ACQUISITION OF AIRCARD ENABLES CONSTANT ACCESS ON
    THE ROAD TO INTERNET, EMAIL APPLICATIONS AS
    LONG AS CELLULAR SERVICE IS AVAILABLE. USAGE
    WHILE ON VACATION.

28
INSIGHTS FROM TEMPORAL DIMENSION
  • Iterational element reflective of past practices
    which are symbolic of security, certainty
    convenience.
  • Projective element reflective of intentions to
    upgrade or acquire technology or to engage in new
    practices.
  • Practical evaluative element reflective of novel,
    unanticipated uses intended to resolve individual
    dilemmas.

29
INSIGHTS FROM CONTEXTUAL DIMENSION
  • Reflects stakeholders personal business roles
    which may be in conflict
  • Each stakeholder has different agentic dilemmas
    resulting in different patterns of use.
  • IT creates boundary management problems.
  • IT enables micro-management of boundaries between
    personal and business lives.

30
CONCLUSIONS
  • Each loan officer faced a different dilemma
    related to their personal and professional
    situations.
  • Each loan officer used IT differently to manage
    the boundary between personal and business
    contexts.
  • Each loan officer was very effective.

31
STUDY 2 AGENCY IN A STATE INSTITUTION USING ERP
  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • An integrated set of modules operating off the
    same data.
  • New business processes are embedded in the
    software
  • Modifications discouraged.

32
INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT
  • U.S. state agency
  • Employed 2,925 workers 324m budget
  • Not competitive
  • Largely tenured workforce

33
CONTEXT OF IMPLEMENTATION
  • Y2K deadline
  • Compass was first ERP at institution
  • Vanilla ERP implementation
  • Blue ribbon implementation team
  • Optional training program with low attendance by
    users
  • Expectations high implementation considered one
    of the best ever

34
METHOD
  • Interpretive case study
  • Grounded theory guided data analysis
  • Inductive approach
  • Consulted relevant theories as analysis
    progressed
  • Analysis interwoven with data collection

35
DATA
  • 15 months in the field
  • Participant observation (12 weeks at start)
  • 74 Interviews with 65 people
  • Observed 30 meetings and training sessions, plus
    everyday activity
  • Documents training manuals, meeting minutes,
    newsletters

36
MAJOR CONSTRUCTS
  • Inertia
  • Limited use of a technology users either avoid
    using the technology or engage in perfunctory
    usage.
  • Improvised Learning Learning situated in
    practice, initiated by users, and implemented
    without any predetermined structure, schedule, or
    method.
  • Reinvention Unintended uses of technology in
    which users compensate for their limited
    knowledge of the system by developing tweaks and
    workarounds.

37
INERTIA
  • Helplessness.
  • I dont know how to use half of the functions in
    this system. I dont know if they pertain to me
    or not.
  • No experimentation with features.
  • Most of us use the system like monkeys. We have
    directions in front of us, that say push this
    button, push that button. People are afraid of
    pushing the wrong buttons.
  • Data entry transferred to Finance Admin.
  • Printing everything.
  • Persistence of shadow systems.
  • Nobody can survive without them.

38
IMPROVISED LEARNING
  • Informal documentation.
  • The Handy Dandy Guide for Compass
  • Compass User Group and listserv
  • Finance Administration initiatives
  • We have become trainers in a way. We want to
    help them get to a point where they can do it
    themselves... you know, like a teachers role.
    They have the capability to do it, but they just
    dont know how to do it.

39
REINVENTION
  • Tweaks and Workarounds
  • Use of statistical code field to indicate credit
    card payment
  • Multiple vendor location tweak
  • Using header comments to expand line items
  • Increase in purchase order amount
  • Bypassing the timeout feature.

40
TEMPORAL ELEMENTS
  • INERTIA
  • Projective users excited and intended to use
    Compass
  • Iterational users desired to retain comfortable
    and familiar practices
  • Practical-evaluative dilemma users wanted to use
    a system they did not understand.

41
TEMPORAL ELEMENTS
  • REINVENTION
  • Projective users still excited and intended to
    use Compass
  • Iterational users initial experiences were
    frustrating
  • Practical-evaluative dilemma using Compass
    despite its flaws and despite users lack of
    knowledge.

42
CONCLUSIONS
  • Even large, integrated IT applications are
    subject to unintended use by human agents.
  • Changes in agency are explained through
    improvised learning.
  • Consequences of IT may not be completely
    understood or controlled.
  • However, they can be explained theoretically.

43
REMAINING ISSUES
  • What role for technology?
  • Constraints on action?
  • Technologies both constrain and enable
  • How are material and human agency related?
  • What role for social structure?
  • Social influences over agents resolutions of
    dilemmas
  • Social control?

44
AGENCY, STRUCTURE AND TECHNOLOGY
Social Structure
Inscribe
Embody
Constitutes Reproduces
Technology
Enables Constrains
Enact Appropriate
Design Build
Human Agency
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