A case study of the process of achieving legitimation in information systems development

Zahid Hussain, Andrew Taylor, Donal Flynn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Social and organizational issues are important in developing successful information systems in organizations. In the past, several approaches have been used to investigate these issues, but more recently an emerging and promising approach is to use Structuration Theory (ST). ST is acknowledged as a powerful approach but needs careful operationalization; consequently, the empirical application of ST remains scarce. In this research ST is used as a sensemaking device to examine the research context. In this case study of a National Health Service organization, we concentrate on the legitimation construct within ST to examine how IT management carried out an integrated set of actions over a three-year period to obtain legitimation for an Intranet system from its eventual stakeholders. Legitimation is potentially important for any project involving the introduction of new information tools, especially those that will require a change in end user behaviours. It is therefore possible that this study of legitimation in ISD is transferable to many other IS contexts. A Legitimation Activity Model was used to show how activities could be performed to achieve legitimation from key organizational stakeholders. We suggest that a failure to obtain legitimation may be a significant but under-recognized factor in information systems failure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)408-417
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Information Science
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Case studies
    • Information systems
    • Legitimation Activity Model
    • Legitimation process
    • Research methods
    • Stakeholders
    • Structuration Theory
    • Systems development
    • User acceptance


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