Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Abstract

Objective: To better understand how innovating with information technology (IT), conceptualised as a process of IT appropriation, unfolds within an early childhood education and care (ECEC) organisation.

Research questions: By developing two different theoretical frameworks based on two different ontologies, a set of five research questions were created to achieve the research objective. Firstly, by utilising a tri-perspective framework grounded in a substantialist ontology to investigate the IT appropriation process, the following three research questions are posed:

RQ1: What specific facilitators exist which support the appropriation of IT?

RQ2: What specific barriers exist which hinder the appropriation of IT?

RQ3: How does the IT appropriation process unfold as an interactive process?

Secondly, by utilising a sociomaterial framework grounded in a relational ontology, the following additional two research questions are posed:

RQ4: How can the IT appropriation process be understood as a reconfiguration of the holism of material equipment, performed activity, and social identity that constitutes the world of the ECEC employees?

RQ5: How is the change in the way of being of IT within the process of IT appropriation clarified through an understanding of enacted accommodations in response to emergent resistance encountered during the IT appropriation process?

Methodology: A qualitative interpretive case study with ‘mini embedded’ cases of eight centres of an ECEC organisation was conducted. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews with educators, centre directors and other stakeholders, and supplemented by participant observation and collection of secondary documentation and artefacts in both video and textual form. This resulted in a rich set of data reflecting the reality of ECEC organisational employees’ experiences of appropriating IT into their work practices.

Major findings: Findings obtained through the application of the tri-perspective framework identified human, organisational, and environmental facilitators and barriers and how they influence the IT appropriation. This included a temporal understanding of the interactions between structure and action, the evolving IT innovation content, and the context. Findings obtained through the application of the sociomaterial framework demonstrated how in the worlds of the ECEC organisational employees, IT is holistically involved in organisational work practices, and the situatedness and uniqueness of IT appropriation within the ECEC organisation is revealed through the encounter of emergent resistance and the resultant accommodations which involve changes to the involvement holism of practically enacted relations between IT equipment, activity, and social identity.

Contributions: This research contributes a unique methodology of applying two ontologically different theoretical frameworks as lenses into the IT appropriation process, resulting in both scholarly and practical contributions. Through the empirically validated tri-perspective framework, this research provides confirmation of existing facilitators and barriers from the literature, along with the identification of new ones which emerged from the research data. The tri-perspective framework provides empirical evidence for not only what potentially facilitates IT appropriation and what constitutes potential barriers, but through the interactive process perspective of the framework attention is drawn to the dynamics of the relationship between these elements and their temporality. The empirically validated sociomaterial framework contributes an authentic, genuine sociomaterial account which highlights the inextricable entanglement of the human performed activity, material equipment, and social identity. It additionally demonstrates the actively performed, situational, and emergent nature of the IT appropriation process, and reveals a new understanding of the dynamics of the appropriation process as the educator involvement with IT changes as emergent resistance is encountered and accommodated for.

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