The systems analyst and emancipatory practice : an exploratory study in three NHS hospitals

Waring, Teresa (2000) The systems analyst and emancipatory practice : an exploratory study in three NHS hospitals. Doctoral thesis, University of Northumbria at Newcastle.

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The application of Critical Theory in Information Systems (IS) research is comparatively recent and is still at a very early stage, having hardly progressed much beyond a critique of existing approaches to systems development. It has been argued that from the perspective of Critical Theory the challenge of developing a more rational society involves the transformation of institutions so that computer-based systems facilitate emancipation rather than providing more powerful systems of control. Utopian visions of autonomy, creativity and democracy may be much removed from the realities of everyday life for participants in an IS implementation but this does not mean that certain principles cannot be adopted to facilitate emancipation at a
'micro' level.
The potential of critical theory for IS implementation study can be found in the work of Hirschheim, Klein and Lyytinen who have been some of the main advocates of its importance. They believe that the design of information systems is dependent upon a process of free and open communications guided by an appreciation of the presence and value of each of the three knowledge constitutive interests identified by Habermas. Although not detailing a way forward they do suggest a number of ways of mitigating
socially unnecessary impediments to and distortions of rational discourse. One such course of action could be the systems analyst acting as an `emancipator' within an IS
This thesis is a result of research which has explored how the systems analyst can develop emancipatory practice within the context of integrated information systems implementation.
The organisational context for this research was three NHS acute hospitals in the North East of England that were beginning the process of implementing integrated information systems (IS). Action Research was the methodology adopted and utilised to explore a framework of emancipatory practice within these IS projects. One particular objective, facilitating emancipation through less distorted communication, was explored in detail utilising IDEFO, a process modelling tool.
The thesis concludes by developing reflexive insight into the research as a whole and the use of the emancipatory framework by the researcher who was also the systems analyst. It draws attention to the difficulties of carrying out this type of research for the organisations concerned, the individual actors and the systems analyst.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis digitised by the British Library e-thesis online service, EThOS.
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
N100 Business studies
Department: University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2019 15:26
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 15:08

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