Abstract - The Information Society 8 (4)

From thinking to tinkering: The grassroots of strategic information systems

Claudio U Ciborra

When building a strategic information system (SIS), it may not be economically sound for a firm to be an innovator through the strategic deployment of information technology. However, any successful SIS becomes a competitive necessity for every player in the industry. In order to avoid easy imitation, SISs should emerge from the grass roots of the organization, out of end-user hacking, computing, and tinkering. In this way the innovative SIS will be highly entrenched with the specific culture of the firm. Top management needs to appreciate local fluctuations in system practices as a repository of unique innovations and commit adequate resources to their development, even if the systems go against traditional approaches. Rather than looking for standard models in the business strategy literature, SISs should be sought in the theory and practice of organizational learning and innovation, both incremental and radical.

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