Temporal implications of electronically mediated business procedures on organisational work : EDI applications in trade
The thesis begins with the sociological proposition that time is socially constructed. As such, time interacts with, and is affected by anything that makes up the social world. Information technologies have become an essential element of contemporary organisations. This is a study of how information technology affects the temporality of work in organisations. To address the question, we conducted case studies in organisations where temporal impacts of KTNET, an EDI application, were investigated and their sociological and organisational implications were analysed. Six dimensions of temporal order (duration, sequence, temporal location, deadline, cycle and rhythm) were employed to describe temporal changes in the work under study. Five major findings emerged from the case studies. - KTNET increased the flexibility in some export administrative work. - The distinction between internal and external flexibilities was more difficult to discern than expected. - KTNET increased the polychronicity of some workers in organising their work time, which contradicts the result of a previous study; close scrutiny of the two results leads to the theory of a temporal symmetry in which information technologies provide a temporal symmetry either between temporal behaviour of events/tasks and temporal behaviour of workers, or between different work groups' temporal behaviour. - KTNET tended to affect social relations between individuals or functional departments. - Finally, new temporal adjustments, especially of temporal location, were made between transacting organisations. The study increases knowledge in information systems research by raising a fresh issue of how computers affect temporality in organisational work and initiating a study on cultural impacts of information systems which could be applied in practice. It also makes contributions to management and organisation studies on temporality by devising a new classificatory scheme of studies on time and building a theory of temporal symmetry.