Where is Power in Information Systems Research? Towards a Framework

Simeonova, B, Karanasios, S, Galliers, R, Kelly, P and Mishra, J 2018, 'Where is Power in Information Systems Research? Towards a Framework', in Thirty Ninth International Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco, United States, 13-16 December 2018, pp. 1-17.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Where is Power in Information Systems Research? Towards a Framework
Author(s) Simeonova, B
Karanasios, S
Galliers, R
Kelly, P
Mishra, J
Year 2018
Conference name International Conference on Information Systems
Conference location San Francisco, United States
Conference dates 13-16 December 2018
Proceedings title Thirty Ninth International Conference on Information Systems
Publisher Association for Information Systems
Place of publication United States
Start page 1
End page 17
Total pages 17
Abstract The aim of this paper is to unpack the concept of power in its episodic and systemic forms in an in the context of IS mediated organizational activities power issues often having been neglected in prior IS studies. To develop an integrated analytical approach and a rounded understanding of the effects of different forms of power, we draw on activity theory (AT). We argue that power is a deeply embedded structure, which explains events at the level of activities. We use the different elements of AT and the concept of contradictions to help tease out and understand power. To demonstrate how AT helps uncover power dynamics around IS we draw on three cases from different sectors and countries at intra-organizational, inter-organizational and international levels. Our three cases provide instances of episodic and systemic power within activity systems and networks and their effects on the use of tools/IS. We observed episodic power traits in different components of the activity system for all three cases; these are linked to hierarchy, position and control. Systemic traits of power are evident in the community in all the cases linked to trust and social relationships. Additionally, contradictions resulting from the enactment of the different forms of power are outlined. We provide a framework for the theorization of power in IS using AT, and outline avenues for future research based on this foundation.
Subjects Information Systems Management
Information Systems Organisation
Information Systems Theory
Keyword(s) power
information systems
activity theory
contradictions
theorization
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