Upcoming PhD thesis on IT-related Change Processes in Organisations

Yesterday, I handed my thesis manuscript over to the Uppsala University Library for the final prepress processing and subsequent printing of the thesis. After five and a half years of work, culminating in a quite intense spring and summer, this step marks the beginning of the very end of my PhD studies.

The thesis is titled ‘Inertia in Sociotechnical Systems: On IT-related Change Processes in Organisations’, and can be conveniently summarised using its abstract:

The introduction of new information technology (IT) in an organisation is one way of changing the conditions for how tasks and work processes can be designed and performed, as well as how people in the organisation interact with each other. Today, many Swedish workers rely completely on IT to be able to perform their jobs, while experiencing a combination of continuous and intermittent IT-related changes that affect this ability.

The introduction of new or updated IT systems in an organisation is an example of what is referred to as an IT-related change process in this thesis. Because IT has become such an integral part of modern organisations, many change processes in organisations are simultaneously enabled and constrained by the IT systems involved in a change process. In this thesis, I introduce the concept of inertia in sociotechnical systems to analyse IT-related change processes in organisations, and how achieving the goals of these processes is complicated by organisational, social, and physical aspects in addition to technology.

The context of this thesis is the Swedish public sector domains of health-care and higher education, and the result of research studies and experiences from four action research projects in these settings. The contribution of this thesis adds to the contributions of the included papers through the definition of inertia in sociotechnical systems and its subsequent application. The thesis shows that the concept of inertia in sociotechnical systems can be used to understand IT-related change processes as changes to the characteristics of a sociotechnical system, and, in the context of organisations, how these processes affect and are affected by an organisation’s characteristics. This is illustrated in the thesis through the application of the concept on examples of IT-related change processes from the included papers and research projects. In addition, the thesis shows that the use of vision seminar methods can benefit Swedish organisations, since new IT is often introduced without clearly defined, expressed, understood, and accepted goals.

The defense of the thesis (the Swedish custom of public final examination of a PhD student) will be held on Friday September 15th at 13.15, in room 2446 at the Polacksbacken campus of Uppsala University.

The comprehensive summary of this thesis-by-publication style thesis will be published online three weeks prior to the defense.

The HTO research group: Our Mission

Our research group study the relationships and dynamics of Health, Technology, and Organisation (HTO) with the goal of creating knowledge that support sustainable development and utilization of ICT. Areas of interest include eHealth and the proliferation of such services. The concept of a digital work environment and its application to promote healthy work. Methods and techniques to support the deployment of a redesigned organisation of work including new ICT. The compatibility of user centred design and usability work with Agile methodologies and novel software development practices.  Inclusive design and design for all, as well as gender and ICT. We subscribe to an Action Research approach to study design and strive for swift and wide dissemination of our research through an array of outlets ranging from high impact journals and conferences to open platforms and social media applications.