Technological frames of reference

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Technological frames of reference



Alternate name(s)

Technological Frames

Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)

Reduced Member Incongruity - Reduced member incongruity (RMI) ranged from personal values such as reduced skepticism (Orlikowski & Gash 1994) to better long-term project planning (Sanford & Bhattacherjee 2008). When member groups diverge in relation to the technology use, nature, or strategy, reduced the implementation effectiveness resulted (Barrett 1999) or completely derailed projects (Sanford & Bhattacherjee 2008).

Improved Organizational Effectiveness - . Improved Organizational Effectiveness (IOE) can range from increased inter-departmental communications (Orlikowski & Gash 1994) to derived economic benefit (Sanford & Bhattacherjee 2008) .

Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)

Nature of Technology - The nature of technology relates to what technologies are used for in organizations including capabilities and power of effectiveness (Orlikowski & Gash 1994). Barrett (1999) found the construct related to efficiency and effectiveness benefited and improved communications that expanded to a broader market. Technological image and organizational value resulted from the Shaw et al (1997) study. Other elements were identified as simplified user interaction (Lin & Cornford 2000), generalized use and reduced integration complexity (Davidson 2002), and perceived capability usefulness (Sanford & Bhattacherjee 2008).

Technical Strategy - Technical strategy is why organizations implement technologies, or the expectations of technology implementation, desired impact supporting organizational goals (Orlikowski & Gash, 1994). Shaw et al (1997) further expanded the construct to include organizational or member motivation for adoption. Senior management and IT professional participants believed their technical strategy would “level the playing field” (Barrett, 1999 p. 13). Some companies implement technologies to influence customer and competitor relationships (Davidson 2002), or to improve government functionality (Sanford & Bhattacherjee, 2008).

Technology in Use - Technology in use refers to how organizations implement technologies such as worker interaction (Orlikowski & Gash 1994), day to day actual conditions and consequences associated with such interaction (Shaw, et al. 1997), or worker views of how the technology is used (Barrett, 1999). Use also include process improvements (Davidson 2002) or overcoming socio-cultural, legal, political, or implementation barriers (Sanford & Bhattacherjee 2008).

Concise description of theory

Technological frames acknowledges that different groups have different perspectives of the usefulness, importance and significance of technological artefacts and that these different lenses or viewpoints are deeply significant in organisational perceptions of non-compliance (Van Maanen and Schein 1979; Gregory 1983; Weick and Bougon 1986; Porac, Thomas et al. 1989; Dougherty 1992). The concept of technological frames was incorporated into the SST discussions to capture the interactions among the members of a relevant social group. The term ‘frames’ refers to the concept of frames of reference and is borrowed from cognitive psychology. One definition, used by Orlikowski and Gash, is ‘a built-up repertoire of tacit knowledge that is used to impose structure upon and impart meaning to otherwise ambiguous social and situational information to facilitate understanding’(Gioia 1986). These frames include assumptions, knowledge and expectations expressed through language, visual images, metaphors and stories. Frames are constructed as an interaction around an artefact or process emerges, and comprise shared elements such as tacit knowledge, objectives, organisational constraints and shared methods procedures and problems. In this way the relationships between relevant social group members are captured but made fluid and open to change where the elements change. Frames are flexible in structure and content and have variable dimensions that shift in relevance and content over time and according to changing context. Frames typically operate in the background and can be helpful in that they reduce uncertainty of conditions, structure organisational experience and allow common interpretations of ambiguity. They can also have constraining effects in that they reinforce established and possibly negative assumptions and knowledge, inhibit creative problem solving and distort information to fit existing cognitive structures. The argument of Willams and Edge (1996) is that there is no linear effect of technologies upon society, nor is the spiralling cycle the correct model. Instead, they argue, along with others (Clark and Staunton 1989; Fleck 1993) that technologies, once developed and implemented, not only interact with their environment to generate new forms of technology but also create new environments.

The Social Shaping of Technology theory, and in particular the technological frames of reference strand is one of the first theoretical perspectives to acknowledge that users are part of the technology and that any negative reactions to technology may have a myriad of complex underlying motivations.

The TFR information system constructs relate not only to technology, but assumptions, expectations, and knowledge of technology in a collective manner by organizational members (Orlikowski & Gash 1994).

Diagram/schematic of theory

TFR Model.jpg

Originating author(s)

(Orlikowski and Gash 1994)

Seminal articles

(Van Maanen and Schein 1979; Gregory 1983; Weick and Bougon 1986; Porac, Thomas et al. 1989; Dougherty 1992). Orlikowski, W. J. and D. C. Gash (1994). "Technological Frames:Making Sense of Information Technology in Organizations." ACM Transactions on Information Systems 12(2): 669-702.

Originating area

Social sciences

Level of analysis

From individual to macro and from macro to individual.

IS articles that use the theory

Davidson, E. (2002). "Technology Frames and Framing: A socio-cognitive investigation of requirements." MIS Quarterly 26: 329-358.

Davidson, E. (2006). "A Technological Frames Perspective on Information Technology and Organisational Change." Journal of Applied Behavioural Science 42(1): 23-39.

Barrett, M. I. (1999). Challenges of EDI adoption for electronic trading in the London Insurance Market. European Journal of Information Systems, 8(1), 1-15. doi: Document ID: 40032383

Davidson, E. J. (2002). Technology frames and framing: A socio-cognitive investigation of requirements determination. MIS Quarterly, 26(4), 329-358. doi: Document ID: 275116671

Gallivan, M. J. (2001). Meaning to Change: How Diverse Stakeholders Interpret Organizational Communication about Change Initiatives. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 44(4), 243-266. doi: 10.1109/47.968107

Iivari, N., & Abrahamsson, P. (2002). The interaction between organizational subcultures and user-centered design - A case study of an implementation effort. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science, Las Alamitos, CA.

Khoo, M. (2001). Community design of DLESE's collections review policy: a technological frames analysis. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 1st ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries, Roanoke, Virginia, United States.

Khoo, M. (2005). Tacit user and developer frames in user-led collection development: the case of the digital water education library. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 5th ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries, Denver, CO, USA.

Lin, A., & Cornford, T. (2000). Framing implementation management. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the twenty first international conference on information systems, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Lin, A., & Silva, L. (2005). The social and political construction of technological frames. European Journal of Information Systems: Special issue: from technical to socio-technical change, 14(1), 49. doi: Document ID: 1004391221

McLoughlin, I., Badham, R., & Couchman, P. (2000). Rethinking a-political process in technological change: Socio-technical configurations and frames. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 12, 17-37.

Ovaska, P., Rossi, M., & Smolander, K. (2005). Filtering, negotiating and shifting in the understanding of information system requirements. Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 17, 31-66.

Sahay, S., Palit, M., & Robey, D. (1994). A relativist approach to studying the social construction of information technology. European Journal of Information Systems, 3, 248-258.

Sanford, C., & Bhattacherjee, A. (2008). IT Implementation in a Developing Country Municipality: A Sociocognitive Analysis. International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction, 4(3), 68-93. doi: Document ID: 1486559821

Shaw, N. C., Lee-Partridge, J. E., & Ang, J. S. K. (1997). Understanding end-user computing through technological frames. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the eighteenth international conference on Information systems, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

Yoshioka, T., Yates, J., & Orlikowsk, W. J. (2002). Community-based Interpretive Schemes: Exploring the Use of Cyber Meetings Within a Global Organization. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science (CD-ROM), Los Alamitos, CA.

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Original Contributor(s)

Dr P Sobreperez

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