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Journeys through the quality gap: Information technology in two organisations (Volume 1)

Brooke, C. (1991). Journeys through the quality gap: Information technology in two organisations (Volume 1). (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The bulk of this thesis concerns the search for and application of a subjectivist research philosophy which I initially called Contextual-Symbolism. It is secondarily about the software development work of analysts and programmers in two organisations.

The research philosophy sprang from previous learning experiences; Cambridge Univer­sity in particular. My original aim was to apply a subjectivist methodology within two organisations, at project level, referred to as ‘Sponsor A’ (‘Project X’) and ‘Sponsor B’ (‘Project Y’) for the sake of anonymity. In each case, a different interpretative tool was used to make sense of my experience. In Sponsor A it was the use of the colours red and blue. In Sponsor B it was a theatrical metaphor. Hence, the symbolism. The contextualism resided in the fact that it was the context of the study that suggested the route for sense-making, rather than a pre-determined theoretical framework. However, I later realised that I had fallen prey to the scientific paradigm. In attempting to make my approach appear more 'acceptable’ to the companies involved, I had compromised my own research beliefs and illustrated how the theory and practice of research can be in conflict.

The focus on analysts and programmers formed part of a much larger IT Skills Project which was sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and four commercial concerns in the UK. The objective of this wider undertaking, as stated in the official Information Sheet, was:

“Identifying future IT skill needs with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of City-oriented organisations. The research will help to ensure that organisations are geared to make the most effective use of human resources and IT in implementing their business plans.”

However, although the research had originally set out to focus on IT skills, issues surrounding the implementation of Total Quality Management proved to be integral to the problems that were being experienced by both Projects X and Y. This was espe­cially evident with respect to the management of human resources. Ironically, it was whilst reflecting on the weaknesses I perceived in their TQM programmes that I suc­ceeded in identifying my own! Thus, the final stages of my research journey brought not only ideas for a new philosophy of TQM but also a deeper sense of self-awareness and some important messages for other researchers.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Brooke thesis 1991 Vol 1 PDF-A.pdf]
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