ISYS104 Tutorial – week 4
1. Which features of organizations do managers need to know about to build and use information systems successfully? What is the impact of information systems on organizations?
Define an organization and compare the technical definition of organizations with the behavioral definition.
Students can make use of Figures 3–2 and Figure 3–3 in answering this question.
The technical definition for an organization defines an organization as a stable, formal social structure that takes resources from the environment and processes them to produce outputs. This definition of an organization focuses on three elements: capital, labor, and production and products for consumption. The technical definition also implies that organizations are more stable than an informal group, are formal legal entities, and are social structures.
The behavioral definition states that an organization is a collection of rights, privileges, obligations, and responsibilities that are delicately balanced over a period of time through conflict and conflict resolution. This definition highlights the people within the organization, their ways of working, and their relationships.
The technical definition shows us how a firm combines capital, labor, and information technology. The behavioral definition examines how information technology impacts the inner workings of the organization.
Identify and describe the features of organizations that help explain differences in organizations’ use of information systems.
Common features for organizations include formal structure, standard operating procedures, politics, and culture. Organizations can differ in their organizational type, environment, goals, power, constituencies, function, leadership, tasks, technology, and business processes.
Describe the major economic theories that help explain how information systems affect organizations.
The two economic theories discussed in the book are transaction cost theory and agency theory. The transaction cost theory is based on the notion that a firm incurs transaction costs when it buys goods in the marketplace rather than making products for itself. Traditionally, firms sought to reduce transaction costs by getting bigger, hiring more employees, vertical and horizontal integration, and small-company takeovers. Information technology helps firms lower the cost of market participation (transaction costs) and helps firms shrink in size while producing the same or greater amount of output.
The agency theory views the firm as a nexus of contracts among interested individuals. The owner employs agents (employees) to perform work on his or her behalf and delegates some decision-making authority to the agents. Agents need constant supervision and management, which introduces management costs. As firms grow, management costs rise. Information technology reduces agency costs by providing information more easily so that managers can supervise a larger number of people with fewer resources.
Describe the major behavioral theories that help explain how information systems affect organizations.
Behavioral theories, from sociology, psychology, and political science, are useful for describing the behavior of individual firms. Behavioral researchers theorize that information technology could change the decision-making hierarchy by lowering the costs of information acquisition and distribution. IT could eliminate middle managers and their clerical support by sending information from operating units directly to senior management and by enabling information to be sent directly to lower-level operating units. It even enables some organizations to act as virtual organizations because they are no longer limited by geographic locations.
One behavioral approach views information systems as the outcome of political competition between organizational subgroups. IT becomes very...
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