Power, knowledge and social process in technology analysis: the case of CAD/CAM

Research paper by Martin Harris

Indexed on: 01 Mar '97Published on: 01 Mar '97Published in: Journal of Information Technology


‘Social process’ analyses of technology implementation have had a major influence on research carried out over the last 15 years. Technology implementation is now widely regarded as a ‘socially negotiated’ process the outcome of which is likely to be shaped by different interests and constituencies within the innovating firm. However, the explanatory status accorded to questions of power and political process remains problematic. This paper combines an empirical investigation of the political processes associated with the implementation of CAD/CAM with a cross-disciplinary treatment of the underlying theoretical issues. The concluding part of the paper focuses on ‘political’ and ‘learning’ aspects of technical change. ‘Power’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘control’ rationalities are included in a revised theorization of the technical change process.