A Critical Analysis of the Thesis that Systems are Subjective Constructs

  • Stephen K. Probert


In information systems (IS) projects, it may well be a sensible strategy to treat the computer as a “black box”, if this results in an increase in systems practitioners’ abilities to design new information systems with greater freedom than would otherwise be the case, but it will be argued that treating information systems as subjective constructs tends to trivialise the importance of crucial, technical aspects of such systems. Furthermore, IS projects (at any rate) generally have economic objectives, and many (if not most) other systems projects are highly constrained by economic considerations—both in terms of objectives and resources. Treating information systems as subjective constructs leads to a tendency to deny (or ignore) the importance of these crucial aspects of most IS projects. It can be argued that the same is true for (virtually) all projects aimed at improving socio-technical systems. It will be concluded that socio-technical systems are best treated as being actual wholes (containing both social and technical components).


Information System Economic Objective Soft System Methodology System Analyst Husserlian Phenomenology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen K. Probert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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