The misery of digital organisations and the semiotic nature of IT

AI and Society 23 (3):331-351 (2009)
Contrary to common belief, IT systems often disappoint the expectations to increase productivity and flexibility of work and value creation processes. Moreover, most IT design and implementation projects still fail or burst time and cost budgets to a high extent. After presenting significant empirical evidence for these phenomena, the paper reflects on the reasons for their persistence by developing a semiotic perspective on the processes of dealing with computer artifacts in organisations. This semiotic view allows understanding the processes of designing, implementing and using IT systems as efforts of structuring social practices in organisations. A typical case of enterprise resource planning system implementation illustrates this. Finally, a number of guidelines for an improved practice of designing and appropriating IT systems for effective use in organisations are derived from the theoretical reflections
Keywords Software crisis  IT productivity paradox  Semiotic perspective on computer artifacts  Computers as means of organising  Digital organisation
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-006-0066-1
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