Framing design: a social process view of information system development

Abstract

This paper discusses a social process model for design activity in organizational IS development projects, based upon the findings of an interpretive, participant observation study of information system design processes in a mid-sized UK telecommunications equipment manufacturing company. The form of the proposed model is a dual-cycle dialectic between opening up the design problem and narrowing down design solutions; it is also a dialectic between individual and group design activity in the context of participation in a social community of design practice. A social cognition perspective was used to analyze the activities of design in context; implications of the findings of the study for a process model of design activity are contrasted with managerial assumptions and practices imposed by the use of the traditional, decompositional model of design. The paper has important implications for theory and practice. From a theoretical perspective, it is suggested that design team intersubjectivity regarding the goals and legitimacy of the process of design is a better measure of progress and design “completeness” than intersubjectivity regarding the form and requirements of the target information system. From a practical perspective, the adoption of a dual-cycle, convergence model of design might facilitate the management of detailed design activities between project milestones. The findings also have implications for the management of organizational “learning”: if organizational problemsolving processes are seen as involving distributed and emergent knowledge, then an explicit goal of intersubjective understanding is not only inappropriate, it is not attainable.

DOI: 10.1145/353053.353073

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@inproceedings{Gasson1998FramingDA, title={Framing design: a social process view of information system development}, author={Susan Gasson}, booktitle={ICIS}, year={1998} }