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Title: Metaphors for organisations during information systems development
Author: Oates, Briony June
ISNI:       0000 0004 2689 5930
Awarding Body: University of Teesside
Current Institution: Teesside University
Date of Award: 2000
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How can we enable conventionally-educated information systems (IS) developers to use a richer model of organisations and move towards an interpretive paradigm? The thesis of this research is that a way can be found by using metaphors for organisations as cognitive structuring devices during IS development. Two interpretive, idiographic studies explore whether and how some systems developers could work with a range of metaphors for organisations. Phase 1 of the fieldwork research involved the development of an information system for a small engineering company. Phase 2 involved the development of information systems for a local authority department, a hospital diabetes centre and a chain of DIY stores. The use of metaphors is analysed using a cognitive psychology theory of metaphor and analogy. It is found that the developers used a range of organisational metaphors. They also linked the mappings generated to IS development issues, showing that the metaphors had practical relevance. A prototype methodology, Multi-Metaphor Methodology, is created. Version 1 has a theoretical basis from previous IS research, organisation analysis and cognitive psychology. Learning outcomes from the two fieldwork studies lead to enhancements in Versions 2 and 3. The methodology is thus based on knowledge from both theory and action. The developers felt it was helpful and recommended its development should continue. Phase 1 used interpretive action research. Issues arising from Phase 1 lead to the proposal of three additional validity criteria: the extent of participation, students as co-researchers, and guarding against self or group delusion. Phase 2 used co-operative inquiry. It is concluded that IS action research can be improved by reference to the literature of cooperative inquiry, which better addresses method, participation, knowledge, and validity. It is also concluded that co-operative inquiry can be improved by adding validity criteria from the IS action research literature. Contributions to knowledge are made in the use of organisational metaphors and cognitive psychology theory, the development of a methodology, two interpretive studies and an examination of research methods and validity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available