Management information systems, communications and intraorganizational power : an integrative study



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Only a few studies have linked the impact of Management Information Systems (MIS) to intraorganizational distributions of power or interdepartmental communications. These studies have often lacked an underlying theoretical framework and/or systematic research approach. This dissertation develops a theoretical framework which is used to test the interrelationships of power, communications and MIS implementations in a university sample. In order to explore the impact of an MIS on interdepartmental communications, top and middle level administrators completed a questionnaire about sources of task-related registration information prior and nine months after the implementation of a registration MIS at their school. Top and middle level administrators at a university that already had an MIS similar to that being installed also completed the questionnaire at both administration times. Analysis of data indicates that there was no significant difference in interdepartmental communications between the university installing the MIS and the comparison university. However, interdepartmental communications with departments not directly involved with the registration process increased only at the university installing the IMIS. Interdepartmental communications may "be used to increase a department's power. The extent to which a department interacts with other departments, as well as its ability to decrease uncertainty to the organization and the exclusiveness of the tasks which it performs, are hypothesized to be determinants of power. The relationship of these three determinants to power is assessed using questionnaire and interview responses of 74 department heads at six universities. Description of departmental tasks in administrative manuals and committee membership are also included in the analysis. Analysis of the data indicates that the three determinants are positively and moderately related to power. Further, when the sample is split on the basis of criticalness of departmental tasks toward meeting organizational objectives, departments rated high on task criticalness often display a significantly different relationship between power and its determinants than do departments rated low on task criticalness. Implications for the theoretical and pragmatic applications of the model, for the direction and scope of future research, and for the usefulness of the methodology are discussed.



Organizational behavior, Organizational communications