A Comparison of Five Alternative Approaches to Information Systems Development
Keywords:Interactionist approach, the Speech Act-based approach, Soft Systems Methodology, the Trade Unionist approach, the Professional Work Practices approach
The field of information systems (IS) has grown dramatically over the past three decades. Recent trends have transformed the IS landscape. These trends include: the evolution of implementation technology from centralized mainframe environments towards distributed client-server architectures, embracing the internet and intranets; changes in user interface technology from character-based to graphical user interfaces, multimedia, and the World Wide Web; changes in applications from transaction processing systems towards systems supporting collaborative work; and the use of information technology as an enabler of business process reengineering and redesign. These technology changes coupled with changes in organizations and their operating environment, such as the growth of the network and virtual organization, internationalization and globalization of many organizations, intensified global competition, changes in values such as customer orientation (service quality) and Quality of Working Life, have imposed new demands on the development of information systems. These changes have led to an increasing discussion about information systems development (ISO), and in particular, the various methods, tools, methodologies, and approaches for ISD. We believe such discussion has opened the door for new, alternative IS development approaches and methodologies. Our paper takes up this theme by describing five alternative ISD approaches, namely the Interactionist approach, the Speech Act-based approach, Soft Systems Methodology, the Trade Unionist approach, and the Professional Work Practices approach. Despite the fact that most of these approaches have a history of over 15 years, their relevance to IS development is not well recognized in the mainstream of IS practice and research, nor is their institutional status comparable to traditional approaches such as structured analysis and design methods. Therefore we characterize the five approaches as 'alternative' in the sense of alternative to the orthodoxy.
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