Evolution of Inter-organizational Information Systems on Long Timescales: A Practice Theory Approach
Reimers Kai, Johnston Robert, Klein Stefan
Inter-organizational Information Systems (IOIS) are computer-based systems shared by, or connecting, several organizations. The on-going use and evolution on long timescales of these large-scale socio-technical systems so far cannot be satisfactorily explained on the basis of existing theories of IS adoption, implementation, and use. In this chapter, we present a theory of IOIS in which the on-going use and evolution of IOIS is treated as a practical and socio-material accomplishment of communities through boundary practices and structures. We draw on the structure/action reproduction paradigm of Structuration Theory to account for the persistence of these systems, and thus explain their structure, while using the embodiment of action from Practice Theory to treat the material nature of these systems. We distinguish three dimensions of structure - material, normative, and ideational - and we also distinguish patterns of actions (along these three dimensions) from constraining and enabling structures. However, we attempt to treat these three structural dimensions and their reproduction processes symmetrically throughout. This symmetrical treatment leads us to propose that these action/structure dimensions are not reproduced in isolation but rather undergo an intimate mixing, or mangling, in the process, which in turn suggests a new kind of two-way causal accommodation between the various aspects of structure that we term "resonance."
Practice Theory; Structuration Theory; IS Evolution; Inter-organisational Information Systems; Change; Causality; Communities of Practice; Boundary Objects