According to Lyytinen and Robey (1999), information systems development (ISD) involves risk. This risk is regularly being taken by managers and employees within an organisation but the outcome of such information systems development projects many become a failed information system (IS). The problem is further compounded through the lack of learning about such failures, and unsuccessful/negligible efforts to try and avoid such mistakes in the future (Lyytinen and Robey, 1999). The contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the development of a framework to incorporate a learning approach within information system application (ISA) projects. This thesis puts forward the need for an embedded learning approach and examines its importance for organisations. It is argued that more attention needs to be placed on generating learning because many individuals within organisations focus mainly on their operations and less on other processes. Three areas of theory are argued to relate to exploring these issues, namely how IS can currently be designed and implemented, what role the area of the learning organization can contribute in helping promote and embed a learning approach into an ISD methodology and finally, what theories of learning can be applied to these two bodies of literature. From addressing such issues, the main question of this thesis is how a learning approach can be incorporated into soft methodologies for the design and implementation of information systems applications. By examining a number of soft methodologies and arguing for the expansion of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), or as the expansion is labelled, Soft Systems Methodology eXpanded for Learning (SSW), a manufacturing organisation is used to test out the framework in practice. The first cycle of action research investigated how SSM' worked in practice. The second cycle of action research, while not using a formal framework, investigated how these participants implemented and managed the technology. Reflecting back on the technology management literature, a technology management process framework (TMPF) is identified and adapted to try and further embed the learning individuals have obtained from the SSM' framework. A discussion on how the two frameworks can be joined together and used in practice is undertaken. This framework is labelled as Soft Systems Methodology eXpanded for Learning and incorporating Technology Management (SSM'). A second case is used to test this now developed SSWTM framework. The second case involved a National Health Service (NHS) organisation. This second case identifies learning points that support or can pose problems with the SSW' framework allowing any refinements to be made. This work finishes by firstly, providing a detailed discussion on the research process this work adopted as well as undertaking an evaluation of the SSW' framework. Secondly, the conclusions address how well a learning approach can be incorporated into a soft methodology for the design and implementation of information system applications (ISA). Lastly, it is stated how this SSM'm can impact on theory and practice.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 16 Oct 2007|