ICS 132: Organizational Information Systems

Winter 2003


Instructor: Paul Dourish (jpd@ics.uci.edu)
TA: Steve Abrams (sabrams@ics.uci.edu; Office hours TBA)
Lectures: Tu Th 2:00--3:20, ICS 174
Discussions: Tu Th 5-6:20 (or as scheduled)


When you graduate, almost all of you will work in, with, for, or amonst organizations. Organizations are the primary developers and consumers of computer systems. More importantly, modern organizations depend critically on computer systems to function. Information systems and organizations are thoroughly intertwined. Most of the information system design you're ever likely to be involved in will depend on organizational insights to be effective.

This class explores the relationships between organizations and information systems, and gives you tools for understanding and analyzing these relationships. We'll spend some time dealing primarily with the structure and analysis of organizations, some time talking specifically about technologies that are especially relevant to organizational life, and some time introducing specific techniques for uncovering and thinking about technology in organizational settings.

This last topic will be explored through a short project in analyzing organizational technology. This is preparatory to the more in-depth analyses you'll do in ICS 135.


We used to teach this class using Alter's "Information Systems: A Management Perspective" (recently renamed "Information Systems: Foundations of E-Commerce"). However, it's not a great match for the class, and so I've decided to teach the class this year without a primary text. I'll distribute readings and notes as I go along for certain topics.

We will still use the former secondary text, which is "Analysing Social Settings," by John and Lyn Lofland. This is an introduction to the use of ethnographic field techniques for investigating the use of technology (and other social systems). This is also a required text for ICS 135.


Mon Jan 6: Web page set up.

Thu Jan 9: Gave out the first assignment.

Thu Jan 16: First two readings available.

Thu Jan 16: I sent out email to people I'm able to add to the class. If you haven't heard from me, I'm afraid you're out of luck. Sorry. If you did here from me, bring an add card to the lecture.

Wed Jan 22: Emailed the second assignment.

Fri Jan 31: Here's a copy of a previous midterm. The course content has changed a little since this exam was set, but it'll give you an idea of what my tests look like...

Thu Feb 6: Here's a guide to the answers for the sample midterm. Questions 4, 7, and 10 deal with material that is no longer part of the syllabus.

Sun Feb 8: Posted third assignment.

Thu Mar 6: Here is a a sample final and the the answers. Note that questions 2, 4(a), 6(b), and 7 are based on material that is no longer part of the syllabus.



Lecture Notes

Other Materials

Jan 7

Introduction/Course Overview

Jan 9

Metaphors of Organizations

Jan 14

No lecture -- Paul out of town.

Jan 16

Performance and Competition

Bakos and Treacy's paper

Jan 21

Discussion -- Information and Institutional Circuitry

Agre's paper

Jan 23

Processes & Workflow -- I

Jan 28

Processes & Workflow -- II

Bowers, Button, and Sharrock article

Jan 30

Data Management -- I

Feb 4

Data Management -- II

Feb 6

Data Management -- III

Dourish, Lamping and Rodden article; database servlet

Feb 11


Feb 13

Introducting the Project

project details

Feb 18

Interviews (guest lecture by Madhu Reddy)

Feb 20

Analyzing Data (guest lecture by Madhu Reddy)

Feb 25

Organizational Communication

Feb 27


Mar 4

E-Commerce I

Mar 6

E-Commerce II


Mar 11

Case studies/Review

Mar 13

Final exam