Power, politics and persuasion in IS evaluation: A focus on 'relevant social groups'

Melanie Wilson, Debra Howcroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The focus of this paper is with the activities associated with evaluations and their role in attaining (or not) stabilisation of the artefact. We aim to achieve two broad objectives: first, to examine some particular political and social aspects of evaluation processes in organisations; and secondly, to show the potential contribution of employing the notion of 'relevant social groups', a concept adopted from the social shaping of technology approach. By using a case study illustration we examine formal evaluations as a mechanism to effect and justify decisions already taken elsewhere and as important resources for supporters of the system to enroll new users and consolidate existing support. The study shows that if enrolment is achieved then the technology will head towards stabilisation and thus 'success'; conversely, an inability to enroll will likely lead to a de-stabilising process, and thus 'failure'. Hence, there is a dialectical process of persuasion by the supporters on the one hand, and a response from the would-be users on the other. Finally, conclusions are drawn as we highlight the contribution of 'relevant social groups' to our understanding of the process of IS evaluation. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-43
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Strategic Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Evaluation
  • Failure
  • Political perspective
  • Relevant social groups
  • Social shaping


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