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Empowerment, change and information technology: socio-technical design and business process re-engineering [review article]

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Critically reviews and compares the concepts of business process re-engineering (BPR), which has recently addressed the issue of changing organizations through the use of information technology (IT) and socio-technical design (STD), which has traditionally been concerned with the matching of social and technical systems, seen as fundamental to the design of computer systems in organizations. Challenges the notion that STD can humanize BPR and argues that, by promoting this association, STD experts isolate such techniques as employee participation and teamwork from wider issues related to changing managerial discourses and economic contexts. BPR is remarkable in that it goes beyond previous managerial discourses such as total quality management, particularly in how it combines IT-induced change with “soft” ideas such as empowerment and teamwork, therefore reinforcing management control and diluting issues of power relationships. STD specialists have traditionally been dedicated to promoting emancipation and socially responsible choices, and should therefore seriously examine BPR in terms of its theoretical and ethical assumptions and its practical implications.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27450/

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