BIS Cluster Seminar: Jean-Grégoire
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the construct of IT-enabled transparency and to propose a theoretical foundation about how IT supports transparency in organizations, a concern at the heart of Zuboff’s (1988) automate/informate theory. An in-depth, inductive comparative case study of four high-growth ventures from the software and video games industry was conducted. We conceptualize transparency as the extent to which attitudes and actions in an organization are readily open to observation, by the few and by the many. We found that organizations seek to produce transparency in order to address three functional demands that contribute to the ability to adapt to their environment: the demands for identification and cohesion among workers, for coordination across occupational boundaries, and for establishing accountability across authority levels. To produce transparency, we found that organizations enact functionally equivalent configurations of IT-enabled and non-IT practices. From these findings, we develop a set of theoretical propositions that suggest that organizations search for IT appropriations that will generate transparency in response to an unmet functional demand. This search involves competition between alternative IT-enabled and non-IT practices. Contextual and path-dependent conditions influence the configuration of practices that will be selected and enacted in a given organization. This theoretical foundation extends current thinking about IT-enabled transparency. It also contributes to the literature on IT affordances, by highlighting the possibility of functional equivalence among affordances, and by emphasizing the importance of researching the diversity of ways in which IT-enabled and non-IT practices may be combined to produce transparency in organizations.
Jean-Grégoire Bernard is Senior Lecturer and BCom(Hons)/MCom in IS programme director at the Victoria Business School, part of the Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). His current research projects focus on entrepreneurial learning about IT, on IT-enabled transparency and control in peer production, and on the role of aesthetics in organizational IT adoption. His work on these topics draws on a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, and sits at the intersection of information systems and organisation studies. He obtained his PhD in Management from Queen's University (Canada). He has been Associate Editor for the International Conference for Information Systems (ICIS) from 2012 to 2014. Before joining the Victoria University of Wellington in 2010, Jean-Grégoire taught at HEC Montréal and acted as research project manager at CIRANO, a Montréal-based academic research centre.