Myers (1994) A Disaster for Everyone to See: An interpretive Analysis of a Failed IS Project

Abstract

The New Zealand Education Department attempted to implement a centralized payroll system in 1989. The difficulties that the department experienced were broadcast on national radio and television and publicised on the front page of The New Zealand Herald. In the end, the centralized payroll system was scrapped by the government.
This paper examines this case study using the critical hermeneutics of Gadamer and Ricoeuer. Critical hermeneutics, as an integrative theoretical framework, combines both framework, combines both interpretive and critical element, and addresses those social and organizational issues, which are key to the successful implementation of information systems. This paper suggests critical hermeneutics as a conceptual foundation for information systems implementation research.

Citation Michael D. Myers (1994). A Disaster for Everyone to See: An interpretive Analysis of a Failed IS Project. Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, vol. 4 no. 4, pp. 185–201. DOI

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

@article{myers1994disaster,
author = {Myers, Michael D.},
doi = {10.1016/0959-8022(94)90022-1},
isbn = {0959-8022},
issn = {09598022},
journal = {Accounting, Management and Information Technologies},
number = {4},
pages = {185--201},
title = {{A Disaster for Everyone to See: An interpretive Analysis of a Failed IS Project}},
volume = {4},
year = {1994}
}

Key ideas

This paper has proposed the critical hermeneutics of Gadamer and Ricoeur as a conceptual foundation for information systems implementation research. As an integrative framework, critical hermeneutics combines both interpretive and critical elements; it is a constitutive process theory that emphasizes both the subjective meaning for the individual actor and the social structures that condition and enable such meanings. The theory overcomes the limitations of narrow, mechanistic perspectives that have been tended to dominate the IS implementation research literature. (p. 199)

Notes

Introduction

One of the best known cases of information systems failure in New Zealand is the The New Zealand Education Departments attempt to implement a centralized payroll system in 1989. (p. 185)

The research methodology adopted is a contextualised, interpretive one, employing the techniques of case study research. The case study material was collected from unstructured interviews, unpublished documents, and newspaper and magazine reports. The focus of this paper is on a theoretical analysis of the case using the hermeneutic-dialectic approach of Gadamer and Ricoeur, only a brief summary of the essential features of the case are presented. (p. 186)

The difficulties that the department experienced during implementation were broadcast on national radio and television, and publicized on the front page of The New Zealand Herald as well as in other publications. With all the publicity, the case was “a disaster for everyone to see”; in the end, the centralized payroll system was abandoned. (p. 186)

Implementation Research Frameworks

Critical Hermeneutics as a Theoretical Framework For Understanding I.S. Implementation

The New Zealand Education Department Case Study

Conclusions

The value of the framework has been illustrated by analyzing an information systems disaster, which received much publicity in the New Zealand mass media. While the early implementation date, the lack of training, the poor communication, and the lack of consultation amongst other things were all important contributors to the implementation problems, none of these factors on their own explain why this system was such a disaster. (p. 199)

The final result can only be understood by considering the whole picture, by focusing on the context of interaction between the various actors, and the way in which the implementation of the New Zealand Education Department's centralized payroll system was part of a much broader social and historical context. (p. 199)

Tables and figures

Figure 1: Summary of three theoretical approaches Figure 1 ~ p. 190

Keywords:

Hermeneutics, INF6001W, critical theory, education, hermeneutics, information systems implementation, interpretive case study, interpretive research, new zealand

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