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Agility, improvisation, or enacted emergence

Zheng, Yingqin, Venters, Will ORCID: 0000-0001-8329-729X and Cornford, Tony ORCID: 0000-0001-9202-1498 (2007) Agility, improvisation, or enacted emergence. In: International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) 2007, 2007-12-09 - 2007-12-12, Montréal, Canada, CAN. (Submitted)

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There has long been a debate in system development centered on the dichotomy between control and innovation. In recent years this has been exemplified by the movement for agile methods. This paper seeks to bring some theoretical underpinning to this discourse by drawing upon the literature of "improvisation", extensively explored in organization science. We relate this discussion to an example of a large scale system development effort undertaken "in the wild" - the ongoing construction of a particle physics grid in the UK (GridPP), itself part of the world's largest grid, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) Computing Grid. Our findings show that a combination of top-down coordination and bottom-up innovation is at work in this domain. Limited defined system development methodology is explicitly employed in the project, and homegown methods and ad hoc activities seem to dominate the day-to-day practices of system development. We also find that this way of working is embedded in, and draws from, the conventional practices of the community; for example, the way particle physics experiments are organized and constructed. We conclude by formulating a framework of "enacted emergence" which characterizes system development practices in an environment with a high level of complexity and uncertainties.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 the authors
Divisions: Management
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2009 16:14
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:01

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