Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Management Information Systems
IT Enabled Social Action Networks (ITSAN) are networks of actors, connected via an IT platform, working together to improve social conditions and the lives of others. ITSANs allow users to effectively collaborate, share information, and pool resources in pursuit of a common social mission. IT value can manifest itself in important ways that have not been adequately addressed in the information systems literature. To address this gap, this dissertation employs a qualitative, interpretive multi-case study approach that seeks to understand ITSAN construction, sustainability, and user participation through the lived experiences of key actors. First, a theoretically derived conceptual framework is developed to guide research in this important area. Utilizing this framework, three separate ITSANs are examined, each with a unique, but healthcare related mission. Data were collected from multiple sources including semi-structured interviews with the ITSAN management teams, surveys, organizational documents, articles, web-based information, observation, interaction with the ITSAN platform, and researcher field notes. Eight dimensions emerged from the data that are critical to ITSAN construction, sustainability, and user participation: network building, community building, knowledge transfer, resource management, technology integration, adaptability, evaluation, and motivation. This research provides an in-depth examination of each dimension including supporting examples from the data. In addition, the underlying factors for each dimension are identified and their potential impact is discussed. The investigation of ITSANs revealed that each dimension is important and must be properly managed throughout the ITSAN life cycle to ensure the ITSAN will operate effectively in the pursuit of its social mission. The data analysis also revealed that while all factors are important to each of the ITSANs in this study, the influence of these factors can change based on the particular mission of the ITSAN and its stage of evolution. This research suggests that current ITSAN management and those planning to deploy ITSANs in the future should carefully consider how each of these dimensions affect the ITSAN in its effort to fulfill the mission of providing desperately needed help to those who are in the greatest need.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Banks, Michael Shane, "Understanding IT Enabled Social Action Networks: Construction, Sustainability, and User Participation" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 411.