n South African Computer Journal - Information systems evaluation : a post-dualist interpretation : reviewed article

Volume 2005, Issue 35
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



This paper presents an account of information systems evaluation, in which it is argued that the problems of evaluation as described in the literature only seem to exist because we accept and depend on the dualism or assumed split between subject and object. The resultant subjective / objective continuum in IS evaluation points to one of two stereotypes of IS evaluation and the manager engaged in this process: the objective / rational manager utilising objective / rational methods versus the subjective / political manager engaged in political manoeuvring, utilising objective / rational methods only as ritual or symbolism. Neither of these opposing stereotypes is satisfactory. Instead, this paper proposes a dialectic view of information systems evaluation, in terms of which, rather than being a decision maker, the manager is in-the-world, evaluating systems in order to get the job done, on the basis of her thrownness in-the-world.

In the organisation, managers evaluate systems through a process of organisational learning as encultured knowing, in terms of which a narrative, situated, pragmatic knowledge is most useful: Evaluation happens in the course of conversation. Such conversation is, however, not always skilful because the organisation is not just a collection of individuals but also a network of power relations. Conversations are never held outside of power: Systems evaluations as conversations cannot take place outside of a regime of truth. Therefore, the means to achieve a genuinely skilful conversation is to ensure that it is both improvisatory and deconstructive, by applying the suggested principles for information systems evaluation based on these ideas.

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