Organisation development and successful information systems development
This thesis represents a qualitative study of the Information Systems Development (ISD) process and puts forward the argument that IS development leads to Organisation Development (OD). The thesis argues that an OD perspective should be incorporated into the main ISD paradigm and provide the basis for transformation in the field which is plagued by failure. The thesis reviews both the IS development and Organisation Development literature and makes connections between the two fields, as in practice they are both comparable activities. With the qualitative framework, Grounded Theory Methodology was used to guide research and analytical activities. We conducted research in 6 large and largemedium sized consultancy firms and in 5 large organisations that utilised non-traditional approaches to ISD. Fieldwork and analysis resulted in the emergence of an ISD process theory that explains how information systems are developed within the organisational context. The theory provided the basis from which we could more rigorously understand the true nature of IS development and determine the nature of a suitable OD contribution. In this thesis, the superiority of an OD-informed solution is argued in detail and contrasted to other proposals from the ISD field. The OD contribution is distinguished in: a) formulating an OD-informed ISD approach, we have termed the Total Systems Development Approach (TSD), b) defining a diagnostic model of ISD practice, c) and providing an extensive collection of OD improvement programmes and techniques that have direct application to ISD. The contribution the thesis makes is also multi-level. At one level we have contributed in rectifying the lack of research in the area of "process" in IS development. In doing so we have provided the basis from which the aspects of the ISD process can be explored in detail. The emergent ISD process theory itself confirms arguments that ISD is a complex socio-technical and organisational process. It highlights aspects of development that have been traditionally outside the ISD paradigm. Our theory helps readdress and challenge a number of elements in the ISD process. The notion of approach emerges as much more suitable for solving ISD problems than methodology. The role of the ISD consultant also emerges as requiring a range of appropriate consultation modes to deal with intervention complexity. Our results also show that the role of the client is much more involving and demanding than previously assumed. Another area of contribution is the formulation of the TSD approach which focuses on the development of the total system: the organisation, through IS or system development activities. It is holistic, iterative, it allows flexible problem-solving, collaboration and focuses on change, intervention and reflection. A final area of contribution is in establishing a link between OD content and IS development. With the advent of new types of development, OD "interventions" have an increasing applicability to ISD situations. The diagnostic model of ISD practice also utilizes an OD-perspective to facilitate diagnosis of organisational failure that leads to IS failure.