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Combining the User as Social Actor Model, Institutional Theory and a Theory of Unobtrusive Power to Understand the Acquiescence of Software Developers

Bruce Rowlands
Griffith University, Australia
Karlheinz Kautz
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark


Abstract
In this paper we argue that a combination of a social actor model, Institutional theory, and a model of unobtrusive power can constitute a theoretical framework for understanding how the business client is able to exercise control and subsequent subjugation of developers in the systems development process. Specifically, the paper develops a 3-level theoretical framework grounded in institutional theory that integrates elements of Lamb and Kling’s social actor model and Scott’s 3-pillars framework concentrating on the relationships among systems developers, the business client, the SDM, and the context surrounding its use. The framework is strengthened through the application of a third level – Hardy’s multi-dimensional model of power, offering explanations of political inactivity by developers. In this paper we discuss how all three theory can be combined in a framework for analyzing the power relations between developers and the business client. We apply this theoretical framework in a case study of the deployment of a mandated in-house developed systems development methodology in a large IT department of a major Australian bank Here we will show how, from the perspective of developers, the business client exercise both overt and unobtrusive power over the development process.

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Reference:Rowlands, B, Kautz, K (2010). "Combining the User as Social Actor Model, Institutional Theory and a Theory of Unobtrusive Power to Understand the Acquiescence of Software Developers," Proceedings > Proceedings of JAIS Theory Development Workshop . Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 10(73). http://sprouts.aisnet.org/10-73
Keywords:User as Social Actor model, Institutional theory, Hardy’s model of Unobtrusive Power.
Item Type:Article - Volume 10 Article 73 (2010)
Language:English
Email: Bruce Rowlands (b.rowlands@griffith.edu.au)
Karlheinz Kautz (khk.inf@cbs.dk)

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