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The Politics of Information Systems and Technologies
Information systems and technologies literature have for a long time continued to focus on factors that influence the failure or success of information systems (IS). The IS development projects that include top management support, involvement of the user, as well as the practical development of techniques of adopting these measures also remain essential for success (Murphy, 2009, pg 63). The paper focuses on the political nature of information technologies (IT) and IS. The paper expounds further on how these technological politics affects the society we live in by means of political marginalization in favor of some individuals. The paper characterizes important instances of politics of IS by evaluating the IS. The paper also focuses on evaluation criteria applied, the parties concerned during integration of politics with IS, as well some of the issues raised by the political agencies during the process of evaluation. To support the policies in the IT and IS processes, the paper also focuses on the internet by showing its history of development. For example, Knowledge Management (KM) is one of the approaches used in understanding politics and in the control political resources by the use of information technology/systems.
Knowledge Management (KM) proves to be an essential approach for understanding the politics of information technology. KM follows two approaches that are critical for understanding the politics of IT/IS. The first approach refers to knowledge as an entity that can be possessed. Information technologies/systems enhance in capturing and sharing knowledge through knowledge information systems (Sugumaran, 2011, pg 149). Knowledge management involves the process through which organizations acquire, possess share and transfer knowledge. The second approach refers to knowledge being a social practice. Consequently, knowledge amounts to a political resource arising from conflicting interests.
How Information System Enhances Knowledge Management
Organizations engage in knowledge management in order to reduce uncertainty as well as encouraging effectiveness and innovation. Therefore, it is important to protect and to preserve knowledge by using different IT processes of knowledge creation.
Knowledge creation arises through means such as acquisition and mergers. For example, in 2006, Google bought You Tube to gain control of the video site. Another method of knowledge creation refers to the sharing of knowledge through consultancy and funding of research. Most of the information collected from the politicians can be lost especially when it is stored in portable devices or hard copies. Such information is valuable in future; therefore, there is a need to manage information received from political research by use of information systems/technology. For example, codification and knowledge maintenance of the research data also requires IT/IS such as the process of archiving and the use of IT storage systems (Karim, 2011, p. 463). Knowledge creation and sharing, therefore, leads to a collection of large volumes of political data obtained from research that is then used by political agencies to promote social processes in the society. For example, the politics of knowledge management systems are very common in law firms whereby solicitors share knowledge relating to legal cases (Barnes, 2010, pg 347). Today, lawyers are focusing on political issues so as to gain recognition and legitimacy by using the political data stored in the information systems to administer justice for cases involving the politicians. Additionally, another method that is used to feed and to maintain political information in IT/IS is by the process of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) focuses on the output logic through coordinating inputs to achieve desirable outputs that enhance the value to customers. In the context of political information, IT experts collect information from the politicians and store it using input devices such as scanners, and also typing. The data can then be available to the concerned parties in form of hard copies such as the newspapers.
ERP, on the other hand, focuses on systems essential by integrating organizational processes into single software. ERP aims at sharing information across organizations and departments among other data sharing measures that include flexibility and users’ orientation. All approaches of ERP aims at achieving the best practices of political administration. In order to fully understand the politics of BPR and ERP, a critical evaluation of their goals remains essential. For example, different political parties can form a control management committee which combine all the political agendas, minutes, memos and into one ERP system. The purpose of the integration is to enhance accountability and transparency of each politician by controlling the amount of information being given to the public. Using this approach, governments can develop horizontal democratic structures, a process that ensures politicians comply with their manifestos and objectives reflected in the information systems (Petrides, et al, 2011, pg 419). However, this form of technological integration has not been well received by many political activists today. The reason is because they engage leaders in every aspect of the undertakings by preparing steering committees, reengineering teams among others and, eventually ending up with a top-down structure. In addition, BPR and ERP neutralize the monopoly power of the politicians by empowering the citizens of the country. As a result, the citizens hold politicians accountable for their action due to the IS that exposes the political information to the public (Bardi & Manghi, 2014, p 250).
Evaluation of the Political Information to be stored in the Information Systems
During the evaluation process, methodological issues raised by the evaluators determine the political nature of the systems. Evaluation of an IS system occurs in three major steps. First, evaluation process must be conducted before presenting it in the IT/IS by evaluating the applicability of the political content. Evaluation process therefore, involves employing formative feedback from the political parties and making instant modifications and improvements (Barnes, 2010, pg 249). The last process of evaluation happens after the implementation process. In the last step, summative evaluation occurs and the evaluators impose a valued judgment of the whole IS process. The results of the evaluation must be accepted by the political agents as to whether it is good or bad to be included in the systems. The evaluation process occurs before and after IS implementation. However, politics are based on assumption, and politicians often tend to reject the initial claims made during evaluation.
Needless to say, a realistic approach that balances the interests of parties concerned is helpful since it determines what works and what fails when addressing the political agendas. The approach aims at addressing the problems and providing solutions.
The last evaluation process relates to an interpretive approach that examines the IS context without giving valued judgments. Politics remains evident first through identification of the evaluator (Leonard, 2008, pg 114). The question revolves around whether the appraiser is independent and whether it hails from an internal or external source. There must be involvement of the politicians under evaluation, whether to evaluate the whole system, or to go to the implementation process. The third aspect refers to the method applied in measuring success or failure. The last methodological issues relate to time and place. Politics involve delivering issues at the right time and at the right place, as such, IT is an efficient method of delivering instant information at any place. Therefore, there is need to consider time during the evaluation process which may vary depending on earliness or lateness of making the evaluation. As a result, determination of success or failure signifies political interests as there are no set rules determine failure or success. Although precise steps stemming from feasibility to evaluation guide the process, a lot of things may go wrong with IS which can lead to political conflicts.
The Origin of Politics and Information Systems
The politics of information technology/ systems also proves dominant through a focus on the internet origins and the political aspect of internet. The reasons behind internet developments resulted from the aim to strengthen the military power (Dizdard, 2009, pg 212). The U.S used IT/IS to improve its technological power as well as to prevent nuclear attacks and enhance the technological strength of the nation. The origin of the internet proves a number of facts that indicate its political nature.
Another reason that led to internet development relating to politics was as a result of the technological development and research in the developed countries. As a result, internet use remains high among the developed nations while in the developing countries, the uptake remains minimal. These adoption differences brought about the effectiveness of the integration of politics with the information systems. One of the causes of the slow pace of the development of technology in developing is the cost of internet equipment.
In the developing countries, IT/IS serves a low purpose when addressing the accountability and the transparency of politicians. For instance, governments are applying internet resources only in surveillance measures. Governments encourage or discourage their citizens from accessing the internet. Consequently, governments enact legislations capable of regulating data privacy as well as intellectual property. In some countries, governments impose regulations that alter competition among internet companies (Zeleny, 2009, pg 356). For example, government control over the internet in China indicates how states dictate the use of internet among its citizens. In 2010, after riots occurred in the area, the government cut off internet from the region in China.
The greed for power, domination, as well as social domination remains a central issue among many politicians and the continuing control of the information echnology/systems confirm the political nature of IT and IS processes. When assessing the policies to govern information technology/systems, politicians in the developing countries have been focusing on the influence of technology on the society. Technology acts as a catalyst for change in a society through technological determinism and social determinism. Social determinism attributes social factors as the ones that shape technological change (Vallee, 2009, pg 232). Systematic view considers technology as part of the society that already exists within the community. Evidence supporting systematic view relates to the government and its role in shaping new technology. For, example initial use of technology applied only for military purposes leading to the invention of network technology. In that regard, IS has not been well integrated by the sdeveloping countries since politicians are afraid that it may lead to the transfer of power to the public domain.
A good example of the political power relations and the use of IT, relates to the introduction of the printing press and its effects around the globe. After discovering the technology of the printing press in England, licensing regulations ensured protection of good works, as well as creation of intellectual property rights followed the development. The reason behind such technological advances amounts to social forces and society considers relying on technologies due to their impact (Vanderhook, 2012, pg 123). As politics involves rearranging power and authority between human associations, technology becomes a political tool through by impacting the social order and exclusion, as well as generating power and domination.
There are some benefits which have being positive indicators of the use of IT in countries. Notably, the type of technology appropriate in a given country depends on the identified problems and the effective use of IT in solving them. Societies choose technological structures that influence how individuals work, travel; communicate among other things (Wagner and Yezril, 2010, pg 93). Using the political influence and technology, politicians are in control of the since they are able to monitor and to control the human activities. Therefore, the politics of technology stems from a social order, through social exclusion to power and domination in human lives (Stair and Reynolds, 2010, pg 47).
A Reflective Analysis of Integration of IT/IS in Politics and the Society Today
Comparison of the IS development and the traditional systems development life cycle proves to be essential when demonstrating the political aspect of information systems. IS/IT can be traced through the numerous feasiblity studies which led to the development of information system. Feasibility studies have involve legal, organizational, as well as the technological and economic aspect. The second consideration amounts to an investigation of current conditions through data collection relating to structural or organizational challenges business organization. The study of the problems during documentation of the data and procedural processes also take place. The third practice refers to the analysis of the group’s problems, their sources and the goals of the information systems. At the fourth stage, the design of the IS for its intended purpose as well as a description of new systems or modification of existing ones takes effect. Implementation involves the functional approach where software development, programming and training of users’ take place. The IS is conducted through assessments before it is deemed appropriate to be used in any country (Thierauf, 2013, pg 79). Politics of IS use the assessment methodologies to control the political information reaching the public.
Information technology/systems is emerging to be a reliable platform on which the state organs can influence the government decisions and the politicians. The political nature of IT and IS processes remain a powerful tool for communicating political issues concerning citizens of any given country. It is therefore, important to appreciate the use IT and IS systems as part of the goals of promoting politics
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