Ecologies of interests in social information systems for social benefit

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© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore a class of social information systems which are purposefully designed to address wider social objectives. Specifically, the paper investigates the embedding of ICTs into the wider networks of social policy action and explores issues associated with the integration of social information systems into complex problem domains. Design/methodology/approach – A case study of a social information system and its integration into networks of actors with an interest in the underlying social concern is presented. The system under analysis is first described in terms of the emerging characteristics used to define this class of social information system. The wider policy network in which the social information system is implemented is then described and the integration of the social information system into the wider network is discussed. Findings – The case study illustrates that for complex social problems, there can be multiple interests embedded in an ecology of sub-networks. Each sub-network can make use of the social information system in different ways which creates difficulties in the social information system gaining sufficient legitimacy to be institutionalised into the wider policy network. Originality/value – The paper extends understanding of social information systems by proposing that a class of social information systems are developed to pursue human benefit. Recognising the context in which these systems are integrated as an ecology of interests, shifts the focus of social information systems design from examining the requirements of a relatively homogenous community of actors to understanding how social information systems can be developed to enable information exchange within and across heterogeneous communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-30
Number of pages17
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016


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