Integrating IS and HCI Using Activity Theory as a Philosophical and Theoretical Basis

Helen Hasan


The fields of Information Systems (IS) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) are both multidisciplinary in nature and each is searching for an identity as a legitimate discipline in its own right, with a firm theoretical basis. Activity Theory offers a set of concepts, structures and terms which are eminently suited to both fields. It has its origins in the cultural historical psychology of Russia, and avoids the dichotomies between thought and action, and between individuals and society, that are prevalent in western thinking.
This paper describes the basic principles of Activity Theory as they apply to IS and HCI, with particular emphasis on those systems which provide knowledge about the progress of their organisation to senior managers. Activity Theory principles will be used in a longitudinal case study to analyse an extensive project which attempted, with limited success, to produce management support systems in an organisation. The Activity Theory analysis indicates that an integrated IS and HCI approach would have improved the outcomes of this project.


HCI; activity theory; case study

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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