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Theoretical themes

We have structured the course in five conceptual themes; Perspectives on systems evaluation, Economic evaluation of IT, Macro evaluation of IT in the society, Technical evaluation of IT and Social evaluation of IT.

Perspectives on systems evaluation

The first theme will give you a deeper understanding of the conceptual roots of systems thinking and how to evaluate soft systems (Checkland, 2000). It will also zoom in on some more practice-oriented models to evaluate information systems by functions and supplier characteristics (Wei et al, 2005) and models to understand what generates information systems success (DeLone and McLean, 2002). The main message is that you, as an evaluator, must broaden the scope of analyses and not limit the analysis to purely technical aspects.

Economic evaluation of IT

The second theme will focus on the financial/business consequences of an IT-investment. Many equate “economic evaluation” with the impact on profit and cash flow, but we prefer a somewhat broader view of the term. That’s why we talk about business consequences. “Business case” is a widely used term for a report used in an organisation (also in the public sector) to argue the merits of an investment in new technology, or a new process etc. You will get practical tips on how to produce a business case (Schmidt, 2003/2005), how to choose evaluation methods for different types of information systems (Joshi and Pant, 2008) and how investments in new systems should be linked to strategy and concomitant changes in an organisation (Cöster et al., 2012).

Macro evaluation of IT in the society

The third theme will look closer on evaluation of, and investments in, information systems on a societal level. The texts in this theme are mainly compiled from experiences in the UK on how investments in e.g. health care information systems, can be evaluated. In this theme you will both learn about relevant perspectives on macro evaluation of IT and learn from practical examples (Irani et al, 2005; Jones 2008; Lewis, 2003).

The main challenge in macro evaluation is that the consequences of the systems appear in many different situations, to many different actors and come in many different forms. It may even be the case that the consequence of an information system is perceived as a benefit by one stakeholder and as deterioration by another stakeholder. Evaluating information systems on a societal level requires a multi actor/multi dimensional evaluation of the consequences.

Technical evaluation of IT

The forth theme will focus on the more technical aspects of information system evaluation. This comprises approaches to evaluate software architecture with the aim to make predictions about system quality. On the one hand, this serves to verify that certain domain functionality is fulfilled, and on the other, to identify potential risks and requirement conflicts (Dobrica and Niemelä, 2002). 

Furthermore conceptual thinking about the role of technology in organizations is presented. Technical features can be hardly assessed without reference to its contextual use. The proposed material aspects of a technology (e.g. IT) shall serve a vehicle to analyze how the design of specific software enables (or hinders) its users (Leonardi, 2012).   
This theme also highlights different stakeholders’ (technicians and non-technicians) attitudes towards technology and which difficulties these differences may generate with regard to mutual understanding (Orlikowski and Gash, 1994).

Social evaluation of IT

The final theme specifically acknowledges the fact that there are other important goals to strive for, in organizational settings, than profit (which was also addressed in theme III). You will specifically learn about a new concept that tries to capture the Social Returns on Investment (SROI). Such returns are of course most obvious in the macro evaluation of IT, but will gradually also play a more important role in traditional economic evaluation. SROI-topics may also be important to recognize in the technical assessment of an information system


Sidansvarig: carl-johan.petri@liu.se
Senast uppdaterad: 2014-08-22