ICS 132: Organizational Information Systems

Winter 2004


Instructor: Paul Dourish (jpd@ics.uci.edu)
TA: Kirill Petrov (kpetrov@ics.uci.edu; Office hours TBA)
Lectures: Tu Th 2:00-3:20, RH 101
Discussions: M 3:00-3:50, EIC 126; F 9:00-9:50, ET 202


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.


I 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 lately I've taught the class 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. If you're tempted to try to get by without it, I can guarantee that your project will be considerably better for reading and applying the lessons from this book.


Sun Jan 4: Web page set up.

Thu Jan 15: First assignment posted.

Wed Jan 28: Second assignment posted. You might want to make use of this reference material on SQL.

Wed Feb 11: For revision purposes, here's a sample midterm exam, the article that accompanied it, and the solutions/grading guide.

Thu Feb 19: Now posted project details.

Tue Feb 24: Now posted the grades from the midterm, indexed by the last four digits of your ID. The midterm was scored out of 58. The scripts will go to the Distribution Center on Wednesday or Thursday; I'll send email to let you know when they can be picked up.

Thu Mar 11: Here are the solutions for the midterm.

Thu Mar 11: Note that the filing deadline for the project has changed. It is now due 2pm, Tues Mar 23 at the Distribution Center.

Tue Mar 23: The grades for the final exam are now online. Like the midterm, this exam was scored out of 58.


What follows below is a rough lecture schedule. We'll probably end up deviating from this as we go along; I'll revise this web page to reflect the current plan. This is also where lecture notes and related materials will appear.


Lecture Notes

Other Materials

Jan 13

Introduction/Course Overview

Jan 15

Three Metaphors

Jan 20

Machines: Process/Workflow

Bowers, Button, and Sharrock paper

Jan 22

Machines: Data Management I

Bowker paper

Jan 27

Machines: Data Management II

Jan 29

Organisms: Performance and Competition

Bakos and Treacy's paper

Feb 3

Organisms: Communication

Feb 5

Cultures: Organizational Form and Adoption

Grudin paper

Feb 10

No lecture

Feb 12

Cultures: Information and Institutions

Agre paper

Feb 17


Feb 19

Project Introduction

Project handout

Feb 24

Qualitative methods: Interviews/Data collection

Feb 26

Qualitative methods: Analysis

Mar 2


Mar 4

E-Commerce I

Zwass's article; m-commerce article

Mar 9

E-Commerce II

Mar 11


Mar 16


Mar 18

Projects due