Systems analysts and the restructuring of work.

  • Simon Lane

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis sets out to examine contemporary organisational restructuring. In particular it documents and examines the role of engineers and systems analysts in designing and delivering new technologies and work systems.

    On the basis of fieldwork observations and detailed cross sectoral interviewing of over three hundred personnel in over sixty organisations, the thesis documents the kind of restructuring that is taking place and who is involved in the process. Whilst examining the role of trade unions, management and engineers within this process of restructuring the key focus is systems analysts - who hitherto, have remained a largely uncharted and under-researched group of workers. Through fieldwork, interviews and literature reviews the thesis highlights who systems analysts are and what is involved in the process of systems analysis and design.

    The thesis, First, documents and offers a critical assessment of the process of business restructuring and some of the key attempts to theorise this process. Second, it documents and examines a series of methods, values and techniques
    which constitute a design culture, or referral point, from which engineers and analysts interpret what is in the organisations interest, make sense of their own work, pass judgement on their designs and assess their relationships to others involved in the design process. Third, through an analysis of the tools and techniques used for systems analysis and design the thesis demonstrates that there is a profound contradiction between, on the one hand, attempts to develop tools and techniques to more accurately embody the social in the technical and, on the other hand, the influence which prevailing property relations and configurations of power have on the tools and techniques used in systems design. This influence is manifest in the continued existence of a software bottleneck and in system failure and user dissatisfaction. Fourth, the thesis highlights the nature of union involvement in the design process and demonstrates some of the key issues and concerns unions face in the 1990s. Finally, the thesis assesses a number of key attempts to analyse the class position of' intermediate strata' and demonstrates, on the basis of fieldwork studies and interviews the class position of engineers and systems analysts and how this influences the types of technologies and systems these groups design.
    Date of AwardJan 1997
    Original languageEnglish

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