Non-formal factors and choice of Information and Communication Technology
by Eleni Thalassinou
Non-formal factors for decision making
The introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in modern
business environments over the past decades has brought up several benefits as well as
problems organizations have to deal with. Undoubtedly, technological advances have
introduced a new era in the way business is run, with many parts of the process being
digitized and computerized. However, technology continues to develop, together with
organizational realities. The struggle to bring the two fields – business and Information
Technology – together becomes ever more challenging as both evolve independently as
well as in collaboration with each other.
One of the most difficult battles that Information Technology specialists have to fight is to find the tools, the opportunities, the source that will lead the organization to achieve its goals. Information technology, in this setting, can be viewed as a facilitator, as the driver of change or even an unidentified combination in between. In any case, once at least a direction has been determined, the administration of the organization is presented with the complicated procedure of deciding on specific technology, on a specific system or on specific requirements and development approach.
Decision-making, as a process the outcome of which is the selection of a course of action among the several alternative scenarios, applies in many fields as well as this specific one. As this field draws from many disciplines and usually a lot of different stakeholders are involved, coming to a final decision becomes a complicated procedure. Employees, management, chief officers, vendors, partners, investors, among other stakeholders, each one with different demands and interests make the decision even more difficult.
Complexity rises especially since decision-making processes are unlikely to stick to objective criteria, as long as people are involved in making the final choice. The aspects that affect such procedures could be formal as well as non-formal. The latter refers to factors that are rather subjective, related or affected by the personality, goals and inherent characteristics of the person or people involved. Some of these factors are acknowledged, appreciated even, while others exist in an underlying source of influence.
The non-formal part of the decision-making process presents a number of issues. On the one hand, it is difficult to define, as it mainly originates in the personality of the decision-maker. On the other hand it is even more difficult to study and analyze. For this purpose the U theory, a framework primarily aiming at better leadership practices, is used to describe and analyze practices followed by managers and consultants when dealing with procurement of Information and Communication Technology.
What is the effect of non-formal aspects, as described by Theory U, on decision-making
processes regarding information technology adoption?
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