Exploring Opportunities with Experimental Use of Communicative Spaces to Overcome Defensive Routines and Increase Information Systems Utilization

John K. Christiansen*, Morten Wellendorf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Both organizations and the information technology (IT) community have long worked to overcome the common problem of dissatisfaction with IT investments’ outcomes in multiple ways. Much attention has been on users’ involvement in IT design, while users’ engagement in later further utilization of IT is less explored. This paper reports on action research (AR) that sought to stimulate local learning processes and increase the exploitation of a case-handling system. The experiment is done in a county administration where the senior management has, for some time, felt that the IT is not fully utilized. The local intervention was based on an awareness of a need to overcome defensive routines to establish communicative spaces to facilitate communication between various units with strong local identities. The AR project was carried out in three local interventions and presented as an experimental approach. We could not guarantee that the design could overcome the issues identified after the first round of interviews with senior management and department managers. The intervention process espoused various defensive routines, even some that the communicative space approach could not overcome. The outcomes from the three experiments are, therefore, mixed. The results indicate that creating communicative spaces is a viable approach to engaging users in systems development. Nevertheless, defensive routines, reluctant managers, and communities of practices hamper the development of communicative spaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)713-750
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27 January 2021.


  • Action research
  • Communicative spaces
  • Community of practice
  • Defensive routines
  • Experimental
  • EDMS

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