A Re-conceptualisation of the Interpretive Flexibility of Information Technologies: Redressing the balance between the Social and the Technical

Thursday 23 October 2008

The University of the West of England, Frenchay (Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY). Room: TBD. Directions from Security.

18:30 for 19:00 start.

Professor Neil Doherty, Loughborough University.

Neil Doherty is the Professor of Information Management at the Business School, in Loughborough University. In addition to socio-technical issues, his research interests include the interaction between organisational issues and technical factors in information systems development, understanding the reasons for failures of information systems projects, strategic information systems planning and E-commerce.

Neil is currently an Associate Editor for Information Technology and People and the International Journal of El-Business Research. Neil has had papers published in a range of academic journals, including: European Journal of Information Systems, Journal of Information Technology, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Information Resources Management Journal, IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of End User Computing, Information Technology & People, Behaviour & IT and Information & Management.

Free. Tea/Coffee/Biscuits available.

Interpretive flexibility - the capacity of a specific technology to sustain divergent opinions - has long been recognised as playing an important role in explaining how technical artefacts are socially constructed. What is less clear is how a system's technical characteristics might limit its ability to be interpreted flexibly.

This gap in the literature has largely arisen because recent contributions to this debate have tended to be rather one-sided, focussing almost solely upon the role of the human agent in shaping the technical artefact, and in so doing either downplaying or ignoring the artefact's shaping potential.

The broad aim of this presentation is to reappraise the nature and role of interpretive flexibility but giving as much consideration to how an information system's technical characteristics might limit its ability to be interpreted flexibly, as we do to its potential for social construction.

In this presentation the results of two in-depth case studies, are used in order to propose a re-conceptualisation of the role of interpretive flexibility. In short, this model helps explain how the initial interpretations of stakeholders are significantly influenced by the scope and adaptability of the system's functionality.

Stakeholder interpretations will then, in turn, influence how the system's functionality is appropriated and exploited by users, to allow divergent interpretations to be realised and sustained.

All welcome!

Registration required - please email Dave Martyn on david.martyn@bcs.org - places limited.