Contractors and computers, why systems succeed or fail : a grounded theory study of the development of microcomputer-based information systems in ten small companies in the construction industry
A longitudinal study in ten small companies operating in the U.K. construction industry was undertaken using a grounded theory approach over the period 1980-85. The research project involved detailed discussions with management and staff throughout the period of selection, implementation and live operation of a microcomputer-based information system (MIS). The objective was to identify the nature of problems experienced by small companies when introducing microcomputer-based MIS and thereby determine the variables relating to the degree of success achieved. Whilst four companies successfully reached the stage of live operation and use of the information system, five were judged unsuccessful having abandoned the project during the research period. The remaining company continued to experience organisational difficulties relating to the system development. The characteristics of the successful and unsuccessful companies are used to build a grounded model of MIS development in small companies. Research findings raised many contextual, processual and methodological issues concerning the selection, implementation and live operation of microcomputer-based management information systems in this type of environment. A strategy for the successful implementation of microcomputer-based MIS, embracing the factors determining success/failure in the small organisation environment, is presented. The thesis concludes by offering some advice to the systems developers and the information systems design community concerning MIS development in small organisations.