Pre-Investment Information Systems Assessment: An Actor Network Theory Account
University of New South Wales (UNSW) - School of Information Systems, Technology & Management
Information Systems, Technology and Management, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales
March 3, 2008
16th EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON INFORMATON SYSTEMS, W. Golden, T. Acton, K. Conboy, H. van der Heijden, V. K. Tuunainen, eds., pp. 422-433, Galway, Ireland
The dominant view in the information systems (IS) and software engineering literature is that the application of a rigorous pre-investment evaluation methodology is the key to ensuring the selection of the best IS projects - that is those with the highest expected value for the organisation and with the highest probability of success. While the literature is replete with methodologies for the evaluation of IS projects, there is insufficient attention given to the evaluation process itself and to what constitutes successful IS evaluation. Whilst some within IS argue that the development of more elaborateevaluation methodologies is necessary for the advancement of the field, many report that it is not methodologies as such that need improvement. What is missing is an understanding of IS evaluation processes in practice and how organisations adopt and apply evaluation methodologies. In this paper we focus on the IS evaluation process in a company with a history of IS successes and examine the ways in which the evaluation process shapes and ensures the selection of the best IS projects. By adopting the Actor Network Theory lens we demonstrate a) that the view of pre-investment IS evaluation in the literature is very narrow, b) that the practice of IS evaluation produces the 'object' it evaluates, c) that this object, that is the IS project proposal document, is an inscription device produced by relations in the actor network formed around it, and d) that these networks and relations as well as the translation of actors' expertise, experiences and interests into the document (inscription device) are critical for IS project proposals evaluation and their chances of success.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: Pre-investment information systems assessment, Information systems evaluationAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 17, 2008
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