Organisational Semiosis: integration and serparation between system features and workpractices
Keywords:semiotics, dialectics, workplace
AbstractTraditional information systems theory and practice assumes a tight coupling or integration between workpractices in organisations and the information systems which are notionally built to support them. The relationship between the integration and the separation of workpractices and system features has been theorised as dialectical. It has also been argued that the goal of system design would be to achieve a dynamic equilibrium within this dialectic. However, this paper argues that the above mentioned dialectic forged between integrationist and separations! views can be usefully critiqued by applying systemic semiotics. Systemic semiotics refers to a combination of systemic functional linguistics (a semiotic model of language) and its extensions into a general semiotic framework called social semiotics. The latter draws heavily on the notion of dialogism which this paper proposes is useful in rethinking the relationship between workpractices and information systems. In addition, concepts of text and context are drawn from systemic functional linguistics in analysing the workpractices associated with the use of actual information systems features. Two examples are used to explicate this dialogic relationship, including: (i) the dynamic renegotiation of a workpractice which is assumed to be closely integrated to a system feature (negotiated separation), and (ii) the extension of the system into other locations by means of communicatively organising materials and users in the workplace (indirect integration).
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