Designing Intranets for Viability Approaching Organizational Empowerment and Participation
Sammanfattning: Intranets appeared in the mid-1990s and were perceived as the answer to the need for the integration of existing Information Systems into organisations. Despite the fact that there has been extensive research regarding implementation, development processes, policies standardisation vs. creativity and so forth, the potentiality of Intranets has not been fully exploited. Intranets offer many advantages in the form of working networks that support and enable empowered employees to participate in the development of the organisation, to enable the measurement of essential functions and to monitor undesired conditions and find suitable functions that support daily work. The research approach in this thesis has alternated between analysis empirical studies, and design. Current literature, research findings in the form of articles, etc., are analysed, an empirical study of five organisations is conducted and finally a design of possible functions is accomplished. In the analysis of the state-of-the-art, current research can be grouped into four topics partly overlapping each other; questions concerning informatics, organisation theory, knowledge management, and design. Urgent issues for further research are identified as mainly belonging to the topics informatics and organisation theory; management and strategy, empowerment, further development processes, use, and roles. Findings from a study of five Swedish organisations show a need for identifying the philosophy of technology in the organisations in order to make an organisation’s view of technology common throughout the organisation. Furthermore, functions supporting daily work are lacking to a high degree. Further lacks and demands are identified, as well as potential functions and new possibilities. In the next section, the Philosophy of Technology is related to an Intranet. The discussion is based on a model which consists of the concepts Conception, Use, Technology, and Policy. Making the Philosophy of Technology common in organisations is connected to the empowerment of employees and is a guarantor, along with the influence of the VSM on the design, for the impact on and participation in the processes of an organisation. The next part deals with possible advantages of combining the cybernetic model, the Viable System Model, by Stafford Beer, and an Intranet. It is found that the VSM can support the design of Intranets according to essential functions such as Early Warning Systems connected to production units and levels that are to be made aware of undesired conditions in the organisation. Furthermore, functions for amplifying and attenuating information – both between parts of the organisation and between the organisation and the environment – are to be designed. Further examples of functions supporting the organisation, in order to make it viable, are given. The main contribution of the thesis is the identification of core functions in an Intranet as establishing functions for supervision (Early Warning Systems), attenuating and amplifying information between the organisation and the environment and between subparts in the organisation. Furthermore, the interface is to be designed so the underlying technology is “visible:” Where are the different parts of the Intranet located physically? Who delivers information to the different parts? Who uses the functions? Who is responsible? The transparency of the interface makes the philosophy of technology visible throughout the organisation; the concepts are the same, the actual use is the same as the intended use, and policy is active and well known and finally, the possibilities and the limitations with/inherent to an Intranet are known among the users.Finally, examples of further research are given – both as regards the implementation of Intranets based on the VSM design and as regards making the interface transparent.
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