Dilemmas, tensions and conflicts are an inherent part of organizational life and managers deal with this on an almost daily basis. Information system implementations are a type of change that often leads to open or hidden tensions and conflicts. Managers and others involved can only deal with such conflicts effectively if they understand the nature and causes of information system conflicts (IS conflicts). Despite this, in many situations, IS project managers demonstrate a low degree of ‘conflict sensitivity’. IS project proposals are frequently presented from an implicit unitarist view of organizations. Within this view, organizations are perceived to be essentially harmonious, with conflicts both unlikely and undesirable. As such, new information systems are often heralded as innovative and beneficial for the organization, and therefore as progress for all involved. For this reason, design and implementation plans often follow approaches that reflect a lack of awareness of conflicting characteristics of the IS. This keynote addresses the causes, the analysis and the management of IS conflicts. In so doing we both seek to advance theoretical understanding and practical insights that aim to help implementers to become more competent IS conflict managers.
Albert Boonstra is professor of information management and Vice-Dean in the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. His research focuses on the implementation and use of complex information systems directed to understand effective and ineffective management practices. The research is particularly focused on acceptance, resistance, stakeholder management, conflict, and the use of power and politics. He conducted extensive research in various industries, in particular in health care environments such as hospitals.His work has appeared in journals such as Information Systems Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, European Journal of Information Systems and International Journal of Project Management.
For more information see his website: www.rug.nl/staff/albert.boonstra