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Making sense of emergent properties in IT enabled call centre operations: An interpretative systems analysis approach.

Corea, Stephen S (2003) Making sense of emergent properties in IT enabled call centre operations: An interpretative systems analysis approach. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

A major focus of contemporary IS research is the emergent nature of organisational use of information technologies: its contextual, evolutionary, often unanticipated character. Most studies have approached this topic from the viewpoint of emergence in IT based practices as a process, led by social actors. However, the investigation of emergence as a property has been neglected. The systems thinking approach is particularly concerned with emergent properties, but has hitherto been poorly developed for the socio-technical analysis of IT use. In redress, this research presents a new framework of interpretive systems thinking for performing such analysis. This framework permits a researcher or organisational analyst to form an understanding of emergent phenomena in IT based operations as constituted by the interaction of various elements or factors in relations of contrariety, contradiction or association. The emergent nature of an organisation's activities may consequently be illuminated in terms of principle tensions or contradictions, that shape its trajectory of transformation, or form a persistent pattern in its functioning. This method of analysis is applied to two case studies of IT based call centre operations. The case analyses demonstrate the utility of this inter-relational, integrative framework. It supports supra-individual analysis of the shaping of significance concerning IT based activities. The emergent dynamics of integration and transformation related to the use of IT capacities in call centre activities are revealed in multi-faceted, contextually specific forms, that transcend simple binary alternatives in the appraisal of IT usage (e.g. IT is rigid or flexible). The framework's main benefit is its ability to highlight contradictions that are easy to miss, or difficult to pinpoint, in IT enabled work practices. This study's third-person, property-focussed account of emergence in IT based operations provides a different but complementary emphasis to the micro agency-centred model of emergence that has dominated recent IS studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Information Science
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2661

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