An Examination of Legal, Ethical and Social Issues on Information Systems

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Dissertation Proposal: An Examination of Legal, Ethical and Social Issues on Information Systems

Provisional Title

The Provisional Title of the Dissertation is as follows: “An Examination of Legal, Ethical and Social Issues on Information Systems”.

Brief Review of the Related Literature

We will begin our review of the related literature with a close examination of the literature concerning the definition of Information Systems. A clear definition of the concept of Information Systems is vital, because as Currie shows there is a great disparity between the extents to which clear concepts apply in a field such as chemistry compared with the academic discipline of management. “For example, physical chemists know exactly what they mean by ‘entropy’. Would-be scholars in the management field, on the other hand, have no shared precise meaning for many of their relevant concepts, for example ‘role’, ‘norm’, ‘culture’ or ‘information system’ all these terms are often fuzzy as a result of their unreflective use in everyday chat” (Currie 1999: pp.46). In this passage Currie eloquently sums up the task before us when we attempt to define the concept of Information Systems. The conceptual haziness and lazy use of concepts such as Information Systems in everyday usage as well as in academic circles has led to a situation in which providing a clear definition of the concept of Information Systems is a highly complex undertaking. For this reason it is probably not possible to provide a rigid and narrow definition of the concept of Information Systems, because any such definition will be criticised for its inability to incorporate the broad spectrum of features that management scholars understand by the term Information Systems. Many management scholars prefer this approach to the concept of Information Systems and the approach of Rainer is a clear example of this. She understands the concept of Information Systems to be a broad concept incorporating any number of activities that include the use of information technology to support management operations. “It has been said that the purpose of information systems is to get the right information to the right people at the right time in the right amount and in the right format” (Rainer 2009: pp.10). She looks closely at a range of concepts that full under the umbrella term of Information Systems and argues that “one of the primary goals of information systems is to economically process data into information and knowledge” (Rainer 2009: pp.10). The UK Academy for Information Systems agrees with the type of broad definition offered by Rainer and defines Information Systems as “the means by which people and organisations, utilising technologies, gather, process, store, use and disseminate information” (UK Academy for Information Systems 1999: pp.1). It is clear, therefore, that the term information Systems can be used and applied to a wide variety of activities. Information Systems can denote the interaction between people, data, technology and knowledge and as a result Buckland also argues that a broad definition of the concept is desirable.

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