Applying the morphogenetic approach: outcomes and issues from a case study of information systems development and organisational change in British local government

Horrocks, Ivan (2009). Applying the morphogenetic approach: outcomes and issues from a case study of information systems development and organisational change in British local government. Journal of Critical Realism, 8(1) pp. 35–62.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/jocr.v8i1.35

Abstract

With its emphasis on analytical dualism and its detailed account of the concepts and methods necessary for its application, Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach seems to provide significant potential for empirical research. Over a decade after its publication, however, the potential of the approach remains largely unrealised. This paper seeks to begin to address this situation by reporting on and assessing the application of the morphogenetic approach to a longitudinal case study of information systems (IS) development and organisational change in British local government. This assessment confirms Archer’s claims for the approach’s value as an instrument for the production of non-conflationary practical social theory. In addition, certain features of the methodology moved the analysis of IS and organisational change beyond that of more mainstream approaches used for this type of research. However, a range of issues are identified which demonstrate that the complexity and resulting resource intensity of the approach may well work against its more widespread adoption for empirical research.

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