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The shaping of I.T. trajectories: evidence from the U.K. public sector.

Horton, Keith; Wood-Harper, Trevor


Keith Horton

Trevor Wood-Harper


This paper reports upon I.T. initiatives in the U.K. public sector where choices were made, decisions taken, major investment authorised, and new I.T. introduced. The research investigation followed practice over several years in three Police Forces as new information technologies were introduced. We focus on these I.T. trajectories, and in particular the actions, interactions and events within and across groups of people. We argue that practices surrounding I.T. choice are socially shaped. Indeed, the choices and subsequent acquisition can be viewed as part of a process of ongoing configuration. We argue that Social Worlds Theory has much to offer in understanding what happens as I.T. trajectories evolve in organisations. The empirical part of the paper reports upon the findings from a longitudinal, cross-case analysis within the three Police Forces – institutions that are often characterised as bureaucratic in form, and culture. In each case, the I.T. trajectories were followed utilising a variety of qualitative techniques. Drawing upon social worlds theory, and boundary objects, we consider the influence of certain `objects' upon I.T. outcomes, and the way in which other boundary objects become a focus for the construction of apparent facades of formality


Horton, K., & Wood-Harper, T. (2006). The shaping of I.T. trajectories: evidence from the U.K. public sector. European Journal of Information Systems, 15, 214-224.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2006
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2008
Print ISSN 0960-085X
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Pages 214-224
Keywords I.T.; Trajectories; U.k.; Public sector; Police Force; Social worlds theory;
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