The difficulties with innovative IT

It may seem strange to claim that it is difficult to design innovative IT in a time when the technological progress leaps forward like never before. Yet, despite the numerous opportunities provided by the rapid progress, we often design IT that is similar to what already exists. In my research, I study why it is difficult to design innovative IT and how we can improve our ability to do so. 

In my licentiate thesis, I show that it is difficult to design innovative IT since technology is part of shaping meanings and identities. When the IT design is changed, meanings and identities often change too, which restricts what is possible to design or not. If the new design deviates too much from prevailing understandings, it is often considered impossible.

 This shows how existing meanings, identities and understandings, which are produced through historical, social and material practices, limit the possibilities of designing innovative IT.

In my ongoing research for my PhD, I use the knowledge developed in my licentiate thesis to study how IT innovations can be supported and nurtured. I conduct qualitative case studies in the Swedish public sector and use a sociomaterial perspective, focusing on Barad’s agential realism, to understand and explain how material-discursive practices make some IT designs possible and others impossible.

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