In this article, Sahay and Robey designed an interpretive research method that enabled a comparative analysis between two neighboring county government organizations that were conveniently in the process of implementing GIS. Both intra and inter-site comparisons were designed. With the results of this study, the formulations of specific inferences in 3 general areas as following are engendered: “the relationship between structure and initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge; the relationship between capability and transition, deployment, and spread of knowledge; and organizational consequences of GIS”. Every set of inferences is used to shape general theoretical arguments concerning the implementation of information systems based on specific comparisons between these two sites.
The King’s (1983) analysis of centralized and decentralized computing supports the first set of inferences: the organization of computing resources is anchored in more fundamental questions of organizational power and control, and the concentration of computing resources in a single unit of an organization is likely to preserve the units’ power over the users of technology. But a distributed deployment of computing resources encourages the spread of knowledge empower the users, and therefore technological capabilities are more likely to expand and spread in an organization where new technology is configured in a distributed rather than a centralized manner. In the study, the organizational structure, that is associated with following aspects of implementation process: initiation, deployment and spread of knowledge, was considered as the major point of contrast among the 2 sites in question. The authors argue that a unified organizational structure enables a better cohesion among the social interpretations of new technology and the establishment of a single vision and therefore information is more widely shared in a unified organization than in a differentiated structure, which allow congruent technological frames of meaning to emerge. Also, the rapid knowledge spreading is being kept due to the deployment of the technology is likely to be restricted to one organizational unit. Therefore the study is consistent with King’s argument… and so on.
As written above, this article compares 2 organizations and their contrasts based on the social context and the process of implementation with pre-existing theories. I find this study very well structured and quite convincing, since the research method used is sensitive to the assumptions underlying social construction and tries to identify the relevant social groups and their technological frames and in addition, they have done an excellent job in explaining the organizational processes of each site in relation to their respective social context and then they point out specific contrasts by comparing them and forming their arguments on the solid grounds of the pre-determined theories.
Therefore, when they underline that technology itself must not be considered as a determinant of organizational impact, since the distinction of each context and therefore different consequences will be produced, based on the interactions of contextual processual elements, and that one must not assume that technology will be understood in the same way by different groups of people, I couldn’t do nothing more than nodding my exhausted head. In an overly simplified manner, it is like assuming that by handing out a set of Lego to children from different cultural and family backgrounds and expects them to come up with the same output by the end of the day. Some may play and create something, some may play but leave as pieces and perhaps some may not show any interest to it at all.
Coming back to the implementation of GIS, I guess one can draw a parallel with the comparison of viewing and using GIS technologies from the perspective of tech savvy generation versus aboriginal population that is often new to such technology and coming from distinct cultural backgrounds. Hence same technology may generate a completely different and /or unexpected consequence from its use, due to the social context/background alone. Therefore one cannot, or rather should not, blame the technology being used for an aftereffect, but rather re-investigate how it should have been approached to respective targeted population/culture.