Understanding the Functions of IT-enabled Transparency in Organizations: A Theoretical Explanation From a Case Study of High-Growth Ventures
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This dissertation examines how people use information technologies to generate transparency in organizations. Transparency has long been considered a core feature of the contemporary digital workplace (Zuboff, 1988). Transparency is defined here as a functional affordance provided by information technologies which, once appropriated, contribute to solve three types of problems faced by organizations: mobilizing the workforce, pooling work artefacts among occupational communities, and reporting accountability. An inductive theory building case study of four similar high-growth ventures from the business and entertainment software industries was conducted. The findings indicate that appropriations of information technology compete with alternative practices to fulfill transparency functions and a set of coherent contextual conditions have been found to influence the type of appropriations that will emerge and be selected in a given organization. Appropriations of information technology also exhibit functional equivalence, as distinct appropriations of technology were observed to fulfill the same transparency function with the same level of adequacy. This research contributes to information systems and social informatics theory by synthesizing and extending previously disparate studies to develop a theoretical explanation of how information technology appropriations fulfill transparency functions within an organization. Because of the nature of the cases studied in this research, this research also has implications for researchers and practitioners interested in how information technology gets appropriated by high-growth ventures in the “creative” and “new media” industries.