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Societal Impacts of IS

The ICIS 2014 Theme Track, “Building a Better World Through IS,” aims to feature novel and practical IT-related solutions to societal problems. This “Societal Impacts of IS” Track aims to provide input to the designers of such solutions through better theory and empirical evidence about the actual or potential societal consequences of IT use and effective intervention strategies.

The “law” of unintended consequences reminds us that all purposive action—including IS design and implementation—has unanticipated outcomes. Sometimes, the unanticipated outcomes of new technology are beneficial. However, a large body of social science research supports the conclusions that the positive outcomes of technology are often accompanied by negative “side-effects”, and that the results of technology implementations are occasionally perverse—the opposite of what had been intended.

Being mindful of such “worst case” outcomes and anticipating them upfront is widely believed to promote better technology design and more effective after-the-fact responses, if and when negative consequences emerge. The pervasiveness of technology, its growing embeddedness in our lives, and its ability to link networks of individuals, groups and artifacts over time, space and levels of analysis make it increasingly difficult to foresee such consequences and delineate the boundaries of the phenomena we study.

The “Societal Impacts of IS” Track emphasizes theory and research about the actual and potential intended and unintended societal consequences (positive, negative, and perverse) of information systems and technologies. “Societal” consequences comprise a wide range of individual, social, ethical, economic, and hazard-related issues, such as better or worse quality of life and work, social inclusion/exclusion, (non)discrimination, (un)employment, and financial or social (in)stability A key challenge is in identifying trade-offs between these outcomes and selecting the relevant criteria for making such decisions. The IS field is uniquely placed to contribute to such discussions due to its fine-grained knowledge of both the technical and the social (including organizational and inter-organizational) dynamics of IT infrastructures. The perspectives of IS scholars enable rich descriptions and explanations of IT’s societal impacts and important insights into effective ways of addressing them.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

    The impacts of Big Data mining in science, innovation, marketing, social life, etc.

    Societal consequences of autonomous agents and robots, e.g., automated securities trading

    Effects of emerging technologies, e.g., 3D printing, quantum computing, affective systems, ambient intelligence

    Work stress, overload, addiction, financial victimization, illegitimate surveillance

    IT-related unemployment and deskilling, especially in knowledge work

    The role of IT in social protest and economic or educational (in)equality

    Theoretical perspectives on unintended consequences and intervention approaches (IT design, IT use practices, IT management policies and governance mechanisms, reaction strategies)

    Methods for assessing social, ethical and other impacts of IS

    Integration of foresight analysis techniques into IS research and IS design science

    Case studies and analyses of IT misuse

    Participation of citizens, governmental policy makers, and other stakeholders in IS research

    Responsible IS innovation

    Incorporating societal concerns (such as ethical issues) in IS planning and governance

    Surfacing the philosophies or ideologies underlying current IS investment evaluation models

Track Chairs

M. Lynne Markus

Bentley University

Harminder Singh

Auckland University of Technology

Bernd Carsten Stahl

De Montfort University


Associate Editors

Kathy Chudoba

Utah State University

Amit Das

Qatar University

Antonio Diaz Andrade

Auckland University of Technology

Anat Hovav

Korea University

Richard Lucas

University of Canberra

Nigel Patrick Melville

University of Michigan

Shaila Miranda

University of Oklahoma

Anne Rutkowski

Tilburg University

Jacques Steyn

Monash University at South Africa

Monideepa Tarafdar

Lancaster University

Angsana A. Techatassanasoontorn

Auckland University of Technology

Richard Vidgen

Hull University

Stephanie Watts

Boston University

David Wright

Trilateral Research

Yong Kwang Yeow, Adrian

Nanyang Technological University

Yingqin Zheng

Royal Holloway University of London