A critical systems thinking approach for the planning of information technology in the information society
This thesis presents a view of the situation of Information and Communications Technology Planning (ICTP) from the perspective of Critical Systems Thinking (CST). Nowadays with the increasing use of information and communications technologies and the possibilities of management of information, organisations and people in general focus attention on the planning of these technologies. Such type of planning has been often understood as a process that aims to get competitive advantage through the use of information and ensure that it will contribute to the improvement of the way of life of societies. The outcomes in different countries and problems encountered make necessary to explore the possibility of an alternative view in planning that could be more inclusive and participative regarding people involved and affected by this process. In this thesis such a view is defined as 'strategic'. It considers that different groups of people have different concerns that are necessary to address. By using a combination between the systems theories of Autopoiesis and boundary critique, the strategic view is presented. It opens the possibility of including different groups of people and their concerns, as well as debating the consequences of addressing some of these concerns in action. Concerns are viewed as system boundaries. A methodological approach to support a process of ICTP is defined from the strategic view. This approach was used to intervene at Javeriana University in Colombia in a project called "Exploring possible roles for information technologies at Javeriana University" from March to July 1999. Reflections about this project lead the author to propose enriching the strategic view with an understanding of the issue of ethics in the practice of ICTP and in the improvement of the way of life of individual and collective subjects. The ideas of power and ethics from Michel Foucault are used to enrich the strategic view of planning and to enhance critique on the ethics fostered by practitioners. This critique fosters also continuous awareness about the life projects of practitioners and of individuals in general, as a proposal to improve their way of life in the development of the information society.