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Theoretical themes

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

Macro evaluation of IT in the society

The second 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.

Economic evaluation of IT

The third theme will focus on the more narrow financial/business consequences of an IT-investment. It is not obvious that all benefits can be captured in pure financial terms, but the aim of the analysis is to reduce the consequences of an IT investment to “business benefits”. You will both get practical tips on how to produce a business case before an investment (Scmidt, 2003/2005) and how to choose evaluation method for different types of information systems (Joshi and Pant, 2008; Farebey et al, 1992).

Technical evaluation of IT

The forth theme will focus on the more technical evaluation of an information systems. Even though we focus on technical aspects of the information system, it must still be evaluated from an organizational point of view: the technical features can not be assessed without reference to the organizational setting where they will be used (Jadhav and Sonar, 2008; 2011). In this theme we will also highlight different stakeholders’ (technicians and non-technicians) attitude to technology and which difficulties these different opinions generate with regard to mutual understanding (Orlikowski and Gash, 1994). We will also give a practical example of how a systems vendor thinks technical characteristics of an information system (an e-business solution) should be evaluated. That text is an empirical example, rather than a conceptual suggestion on what to evaluate (Oracle, 2011).

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 II). 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: 2013-09-11