Business, Information Technology and Society is an introduction to the impact of modern information technology on business and society designed for readers little or no academic background in the subject.
It includes an introduction to modern digital information and communication technologies, but concentrates on the way they are used by businesses and the way society is being changed by their employment.
As the book concentrates on basic principles and the social impact of the technology it remains surprisingly relevant seventeen years after publication.It still sells a surprising number of copies each year, mainly in the USA. (However it failed to anticipate the contemporary importance of smart phones and social media such as Facebook - my son Paul Tansey, Managing Director of Intergage Ltd, now gives excellent presentations on such more recent developments!)
Obtainable from all good booksellers including Amazon.
This book is primarily intended as an undergraduate text that introduces students to the enormous impact of modern information technology on business. It presupposes no previous study of information technology or of business. Although written from a British perspective it emphasises the world-wide impact of the trends described and draws upon examples from the USA, Europe, Japan and the Newly Industrialised Countries of the Pacific rim.
The theme of this book is that the way in which computing technology develops and is applied is the result of social decision-making. There is a need to take conscious choices both within organisations and in society as a whole using the technology to ensure that it is used to serve the strategy of the organisation concerned and the public interest.
The book focuses upon the use of information technology in organisations of all kinds - including manufacturing, services, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations - and the way this is constrained by the wider society within which such organisations operate.
Modern Information Technology (IT) is understood in this book to be the result of a convergence between modern digital computing and communication technologies. The importance of IT is as the core of an 'Information System' which consists of a series of interactions between people, data, hardware and software, organisations and their social environment.
Information and its associated technologies are now so vital to business success that information is frequently regarded as an independent factor of production on a par with capital, land and labour. In the twenty-first century every business manager must understand the role which information technology plays, not only in their organisation but also in the wider society, within which their organisation must compete.
A full understanding of information technology is impossible without considering its interaction with the social world in which it has developed. Computer professionals who are unaware of the social, political, and economic political dimension of their work are doomed to be the pawns of 'decision makers' who are.
In the real world a frequent cause of the failure of IT projects is a neglect of the human (including managerial and organisational) factors at work. No business or computing professional can, therefore, ignore the 'softer' elements in Information Systems, which paradoxically, often prove the hardest to get right!
This chapter has three main themes. First, the nature of modern information technology (IT) and its impact on modern business. Next, the idea of how thinking in terms of systems of different sorts helps us to understand the nature of IT and its impact on society. Finally we focus upon theme of technology change and IT management.
For less technical readers the section on Technical Systems gives a brief explanation of how hardware and software systems operate and interrelate.
This chapter considers the nature the IT industry today including the role of producers of hardware (computing and telecommunications) and software, publishers of information, retailers and consultants. This discussion is illustrated by a number of case studies of different IT firms mostly in the words of the organisations themselves.
The chapter introduces the importance of two kinds of complex global networks. The first is the physical network of electronic communications which links computer systems across the world and enable multi-media connections between people and organisations of all sorts. The growth of this network is considered here, the social and political implications of this development are considered further in later chapters. The second is an economic network or global marketplace. The global IT industry has contributed to the first and is a part of the second. We consider the role of multinational industries and the interdependence between information technology in more detail in the next chapter.
Here we consider the issue of how far government does, and should, affect the use and development of information technology. The role of giant international firms in IT, such as IBM, Microsoft and Toshiba, will be considered as well as the dependency of other major international players (from CocaCola to NATO) on IT and global networks. Finally we consider how far the use of information technology by multinational enterprises can be regulated by national governments.
This chapter is concerned with the need for rules about the use of computers and who should enforce them. This involves a consideration of the need to protect individuals against the abuse of IT by governments, multinationals and other firms and individuals. We discuss the need to protect intellectual property (including copyright, patents, trade marks, design right etc) in a global information economy and the (opposing?) case for freedom of discussion and innovation. This leads to an analysis of how organisations should manage their data, software and other intellectual property. Finally we consider the role of government regulation and self-regulation, especially on the Internet.
Computers have grown in importance within modern organisations from an obscure back-room tool to a dominating feature of the whole organisation. In this chapter we consider the ways in which information technology is managed; the central role its use now plays in enabling organisations to compete in the market place (or perform a socially useful role in the case of non-profit organisations); how the planning of IT has become central to the strategy of the whole organisation and often has led to its total re-organisation. The consequences of this are explored in an analysis of the political forces unleashed within organisations by such changes and of the likely transformation in the nature of organisations and the role of managers as a consequence of IT.
We saw in Chapter 2 that it is too easily assumed that the adoption of IT must lead to job losses - the reality is shown to be much more complex. In this chapter we focus upon how the quality rather than the quantity of jobs is affected by IT. The nature of jobs with an IT content is shown to depend as much upon management attitudes to technology and human relations as upon any inherent tendency to 'de-skilling' or 'empowerment'.
Some specific human relation issues illustrate the scope for managerial choice in managing IT including the implementation of teleworking within organisations, relations with the work-force, issues relation to gender and race. Finally we consider in more detail the impact which IT has on the jobs of managers themselves including the possible creation of 'virtual organsations' with the dissolution of corporate life as we know it.
The development of technology is difficult to predict - but how it will be used and what the impact of it will be on society is almost impossible to forecast. As we have seen, it is easy to assume over-optimistically that the most desirable possible scenario will inevitably come about. In the absence of government intervention, the most likely outcome is that market forces will largely determine the use society makes of IT and the impact IT has on society. Inevitably, on this basis, there will be a tendency for the most affluent societies (such as the United States) and the most affluent members of societies (the prosperous and the powerful) to make most use of the technology for their own benefit. Under the impact of market forces such changes - responding to individual consumer demand fostered by profit-maximising multinational corporations - may have unanticipated effects which affect society as a whole and may cost it dear in terms of environmental effects or the impact on social stability. This chapter attempts to consider some possible effects of this sort and the extent to which they can and should be controlled by government on behalf of the community as a whole in a democratic society.
In this new century it is clear that these problems will not be containable within national boundaries - given the impact of a global economy and global communication networks - so that any action required will inevitably have an international aspect if it is to be effective.
One page on the site deals with the book I am working on at present. This is a book on Ethics and Politics in a Secular age. Your comments would be very welcome!
A newish page commemorates the life of Sue Tansey. A fairly recent page is about Free Attractions in Dorset. Please let me have any suggestion for further content.
Details of U3A Poole Philosophy Workshop classes in the summer and in early autumn are now on the site. The schedule is subject to amendment and has been revised since first posted. Please check on this site to ensure you have the latest version.
Unfortunately there will be no more classes led by Jayne because of her move to Kent.
A Turkish Edition of Politics the Basics (5th. ed.) is to be published by Utopya Yayinevi.
A Portuguese translation of Politics: the Basics has now been published in Brazil as Polίtica, Editora Saraiva, Sao Paulo, 1st Brazilian ed., 2016.
The Fifth Edition of Politics: the Basics was published by Routledge in September 2014.
Nigel has updated the book and has made some interesting innovations.
If you run a class which might use the book, let us know using the feedback button on this site and we will arrange to send you a free inspection copy.
The fourth edition of Politics: the Basics has been published in Arabic by the Arab Network for Publishing and Research based in Beirut, Lebanon.
Politics: The Basics, 4th Edition is to be translated by Jiangsu People's Publishing Ltd into Chinese (simplified) for distribution in Mainland China.
|Conservative MP Steve Baker puts Politics: the Basics first on his recommended reading list for newcomers to the Conservative Candidates List.|
"Politics, Political Theory, Political Philosophy" Thinking Philosophy (U3A Philosophy Network), Summer 2010, 11-14