Deakin University
Browse

File(s) under permanent embargo

Toward a complexity theory of information systems development

journal contribution
posted on 2006-03-24, 00:00 authored by Hind BenbyaHind Benbya, B McKelvey
PurposeExisting literature acknowledges information systems development (ISD) to be a complex activity. This complexity is magnified by the continuous changes in user requirements due to changing organizational needs in changing external competitive environments. Research findings show that, if this increasing complexity is not managed appropriately, information systems fail. The paper thus aims to portray the sources of complexity related to ISD and to suggest the use of complexity theory as a frame of reference, analyzing its implications on information system design and development to deal with the emergent nature of IS.Design/methodology/approachConceptual analysis and review of relevant literature.FindingsThis article provides a conceptual model explaining how top‐down “official” and bottom‐up “emergent” co‐evolutionary adaptations of information systems design with changing user requirements will result in more effective system design and operation. At the heart of this model are seven first principles of adaptive success drawn from foundational biological and social science theory: adaptive tension, requisite complexity, change rate, modular design, positive feedback, causal intricacy, and coordination rhythm. These principles, translated into the ISD context, outline how IS professionals can use them to better enable the co‐evolutionary adaptation of ISD projects to changing stakeholder interests and broader environmental changes.Originality/valueThis paper considers and recognizes the different sources of complexity related to ISD before suggesting how they could be better dealt with. It develops a framework for change to deal with the emergent nature of ISD and enable more expeditious co‐evolutionary adaptation.

History

Journal

Information Technology and People

Volume

19

Pagination

12-34

Location

Bingley, Eng.

ISSN

0959-3845

Language

eng

Notes

Source info: Information Technology and People, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 12-34, 22006

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal, C Journal article

Issue

1

Publisher

Emerald Publishing Limited