Conclusions on Systems Design in the Two Firms, the Government Department and the International Bank
Churchman has argued that the relationship between scientists/technologists and managers can take one of three forms: “separate-function” in which there is little interaction between the two groups, the scientist relying on the intrinsic logic of his proposal to induce the manager to implement it; “communication” in which the scientist tries to get the manager to understand why his proposal is of value; “persuasion” in which the scientist tries to arrive at an understanding of the manager’s views and interests as a means for overcoming his resistance to change, and “mutual understanding” in which the two come together and try to arrive at a common understanding of each other’s needs and interests [Churchman 1965]. The Chemco approach in the two computer systems which have been described would seem to be based on successful attempts to achieve “mutual understanding” at management level, with the technologists responding to user management’s desire for greater efficiency and a recognition that the computer could contribute to this. Attempts were also made to achieve a similar mutual understanding at clerical level through the setting up of committees and the development of close informal relationships within the user departments. Where the change was relatively straightforward as in the home sales section this approach worked well. It worked less well in the export sales section where the complicated nature of overseas sales meant that the system was more difficult to computerize. There was also the problem that when both the batch and on-line systems were introduced the department was under stress, the batch system being introduced at the time of an export boom, the on-line system’s introduction coinciding with the retirement of experienced clerks.
KeywordsMutual Understanding Work Organization International Bank Experienced Clerk Sales Section
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