A mechanism for activating end-user learning and participation in office automation
This thesis is about 'User Involvement', a theme that is becoming the core of a growing body of research in the area of systems development and implementation. Although the value of user involvement in facilitating change is generally accepted, and has been specifically advocated by many recent system development approaches, its application has proved to be quite difficult. History is replete with cases where the effective implementation of user involvement has been hindered, partly by users who have been ill-equipped technically and psychologically to contribute positively to the systems development process, and partly by the prevailing organizational climate and the lack of an effective mechanism and methodology for participation. Problems experienced by offices in general - and in Egypt specifically - when introducing new office technology, as well as the need for further research on the subject of user involvement, have provided the impetus to conduct this research. A new approach to user involvement in office automation is presented in this thesis. The distinctive features of this approach include a focus on evolutionary learning and participation prior to the introduction of new computer-based office systems; a coherent strategy that addresses within its framework contextual variables at the individual, group and working environment level; a computer -aided mechanism that facilitates and guides the process of knowledge assimilation, user analysis of requirements, and group interaction; a capability of adapting to different organizational contexts; and finally, an interface to selected system development methodologies. The approach has three complementary dimensions: incremental knowledge acquisition, experience with the technology, and guided group interaction. To date the approach and mechanism have been implemented successfully in four institutions in Egypt. The scope and pattern of implementation have been influenced by the prevailing organizational and political circumstances at each user site. To draw on such experience in future implementations, a description of each case is provided.