A critical study of the multiview methodology : a poststructuralist textual analysis of concepts in inquiry
This thesis considers the concept of information as meaning through the following research question: how can we work critically with a tradition of information systems development methodologies? Motivation for this derives from the way 'hard' methodologies have traditionally regarded information as structured data. This neglects 'soft' concerns for how people attribute meaning to data through a process of 'inward-forming' as they use data to make sense of a situation. The research is potentially important insofar as it considers how viewing information as structured data may have confused attempts at theory building. That is, if information is conceived of as structured data, then this may be reflected in how we conceive of a methodology's theory with the result that the meaning of a methodology becomes guaranteed by the theory. This gives rise to a prescriptive tradition of theory that is potentially misleading because it neglects the personal skills of those who use methodologies. This is investigated through a descriptive/interpretive research approach using a poststructuralist textual analysis of concepts in the theory and practice of a methodology. While structuralism views meaning as something static contained 'within' a text that readers passively consume, poststructuralism emphasises how readers actively derive meaning through their interactions with texts. In addressing the hermeneutic and deconstructive aspects of poststructuralism, the research draws on the philosophers, Paul Ricoeur and Jacques Derrida respectively. With regard to Derrida, deconstruction is used to argue how the main position asserted by a methodology's texts is undermined by elements within the texts themselves. This critically questions the foundations on which a methodology claims to be based. The general purpose is to build theories of methodology that address information as meaning. To this end, the thesis centres on four areas of investigation: it considers themes associated with linking 'hard' and 'soft' methodologies, investigates a specific methodology that links such approaches, raises a critical element by deconstructing concepts in inquiry, and considers implications for the relationship between theory and practice of methodology. The area of application for the research was Multiview Methodology (MVM) because it combines a range of existing methodologies that reflect 'soft' concerns for how people interpret meaning as well as a traditional 'hard' focus on structuring data for use on computerised information systems. The deconstructive approach used in this research is not yet common in the field of information systems. As such, this research is intended to contribute towards new critical strategies that challenge methodologies as conceptual systems in their own right as distinct from strategies that challenge their authors. Focusing on the conceptual implications of methodologies rather than their authors' intentions resulted in four main outcomes: a conception of paradigm as network, which refers to a shared conception of meaning, though commitments to beliefs in particular models vary from heuristic to ontological; a Trojan horse phenomenon, which refers to tendencies to reiterate limitations criticised in others; constraints of traditional print media insofar as these are associated with linear and static descriptions of methodology in use; and methodology as metaphor, which refers to the process through which we understand the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar thereby creating new concepts while still retaining aspects of our past experiences.