A long-standing debate in the IS literature concerns the relationship between technology and organization. Is it technology that acts on organizations, or humans that determine how technology is used? Proposals for a middle way between the extremes of technological and social determinism have been put forward based on Giddens structuration theory, and, more recently, from actor network theory. The two theories, however, may be seen to adopt rather different, and potentially incompatible, views of agency (action). Thus, structuration theory sees agency as a uniquely human property, whereas the principle of general symmetry in actor network theory implies that machines may also be actors (agents). This rather fundamental disagreement may be characterized as the problem of agency. At the empirical level the problem of agency was played out in a Canadian telecoms company adopting an ERP system. Was it the mangers and unions (the human agents) that were determining the trajectory of the organization, or did the ERP system also play a role? This paper argues that neither structuration theory or actor network theory offers a particularly convincing account of the interplay of human and machine agency in this case. Since they cannot easily be combined, IS researchers need to develop more convincing theories which are focused on organization and IT. Some guidelines for this development are offered.
|Titel||ALOIS Workshop: Action in Language, Organisations and Information Systems|
|Status||Udgivet - 2003|
|Begivenhed||The Problem of Agency; How Humans Act, How Machines Act - |
Varighed: 19 maj 2010 → …
|Konference||The Problem of Agency; How Humans Act, How Machines Act|
|Periode||19/05/2010 → …|