A Design Theory for Individual Information Systems in a Professional Context

Gaß, Oliver

Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2014
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Mädche, Alexander
Date of oral examination: 25 September 2014
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Wirtschaftsinformatik IV (Mädche -2015)
Subject: 650 Management
Subject headings (SWD): Differenzierung , Individualisierung , Designwissenschaft <Informatik> ,
Keywords (English): Design Science Research , individualization , individual IS , individual productivity , professional context
Abstract: Computing for many individuals has evolved from the stand-alone personal computer of the early 80s to a network of multiple desktop and mobile devices in 2014. Together with the software applications that leverage these devices, individuals nowadays maintain vast ecosystems of many different hardware and software components. For a long time, such ecosystems were restricted by their capabilities in terms of computing powers, memory capacity and storage space. Not surprisingly, their main application laid in the private domain where they were used for less challenging computing tasks in the home environment. The most cutting-edge devices, on the other hand, were found in the professional domain where they supported complex professional tasks. Constant advances in computing power, memory capacity and storage capacity, however, have narrowed the performance gap between cheap consumer IT and expensive organizational IT. Not surprisingly, individuals recognized the increasing capabilities of their private ecosystems and started to use them together with organizational IT also for professional tasks. The resulting mix of private and professional hardware and software components has been coined individual IS (IIS) in previous research. So far, scholars are ambivalent whether the use of an IIS in the professional domain leads to actual benefits. Recent work lists several potential benefits, most importantly increased individual productivity because employees work with more familiar and more carefully selected devices. IIS, however, also show characteristics, which are considered inhibiting for productivity. First, IIS suffer from a high degree of heterogeneity because the ecosystem contains components, which were not designed or selected with respect to each other and are poorly integrated with organizational information systems. The software and hardware components of the IIS are also distributed over the professional and private domain, including locations such as the private home, car or company office. Former research in IS and computer science (CS) has made great progress to conceptualize and implement technical solutions which resolve the issues of heterogeneous and distributed systems. These approaches however share a common weakness: they usually focus on technical problems, such as integration, and fade out social factors, such as self-determination or skills and knowledge of a user. These social factors are however equally relevant, because they determine if a particular technical approach is feasible for a given context and also influence if the approach increases business relevant figures, such as individual productivity. The research objective of this thesis is to approach the problem of IIS in a professional context holistically. It strives to develop a technical solution, which (1) increases individual productivity in professional tasks by resolving the negative effects of a heterogeneous and distributed IIS, but also (2) accounts for the private origin, in particular the consequence that users select, maintain and control functionality and data available on the IIS autonomously. Following a Design Science approach to IS, this research develops a design theory as a blueprint for the creation of a particular class of artifacts. The design theory outlines an IT architecture of a software component, which is installed on the IIS. The component allows the deployment of additional functionality to support professional tasks. The design ensures a particular degree of integration between the deployed functionalities, pre-existing components of the IIS, and related organizational information systems involved in professional tasks. The proposed design eases potential ramifications of heterogeneity and distribution regarding individual productivity. In addition, the design accounts for the requirements and constraints resulting from the autonomy of the user. The design theory builds on prescriptive knowledge in form of selected design principles for IT architectures. The selection, adjustment and adoption of such knowledge is informed and justified by descriptive knowledge in the form of formal and mid-range theories from IS research. These theories establish the link to the social sub-system of the IIS, defined by idiosyncratic factors, task characteristics and context, and furthermore allow predictions about the impact of the design on individual productivity. The design theory is instantiated in the domain of insurance brokers, resulting in a platform-centric ecosystem of different mobile apps, which support insurance brokers in conducting their daily business. In order to verify whether the principles postulated by the design theory have the anticipated effects, the ecosystem is tested for its impact on productivity in a large-scale laboratory experiment. The results are then discussed in the light of the research objective, and finally generalized to establish transferability to other business domains.

Dieser Eintrag ist Teil der Universitätsbibliographie.

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