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Information technology, contract and knowledge in the networked economy: a biography of packaged software for contract management

Paris, Carolyn (2012) Information technology, contract and knowledge in the networked economy: a biography of packaged software for contract management. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In this research I investigate the intersection of information and communication technology (ICT), contract and knowledge in the networked economy as illuminated by the “life” of contract management software (CMS). The failure of CMS to fulfill market expectations provides the motivating question for this study. Based on interview, survey and archival data, I construct a “biography” of CMS from a market perspective informed by the theory of commoditization as well as studies of markets from economic sociology. From the latter, I draw upon the theory of performativity in markets to identify in the failure of CMS a series of breakdowns in performative assumptions and operations normally at work in the making of a packaged software market, ranging from a failure in classification performativity to a detachment of marketized criteria, in the form of analyst ratings, from the underlying software product and vendors. This catalog of breakdown indicates that packaged software production implicates multiple levels of commoditization, including financialized meta-commodities and marketized criteria, in a dynamic I theorize as substitution of performance. I explore the implications of my findings for packaged software and for process commodities more generally, suggesting, inter alia, that process commoditization may revolve around contract and information exchange rather than product definition. I go on to propose an open theorization of contract as a technology of connectedness, in a relationship of potential convergence, complementarity and substitution with ICT, interpenetrating and performative. My contributions are to information systems and organizations research on the topics of packaged software and the relationship of ICT, contract and organizational knowledge; and to economic sociology on the topics of performativity in markets and product qualification in process commoditization.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Carolyn Paris
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
Supervisor: Scott, Susan

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