Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus


Kalle Lyytinen

Iris S. Wolstein Professor of Information Systems

Case Western Reserve University


The Struggle with the Language in the IT Why is LAP not in the Mainstream?

Principles of language action perspective were formulated largely in the early 80's as a critical response to highly functional, naive empiricist view of the language which was dominant at that time in data base, systems design and MIS research communities. The original idea of LAP was to formulate a social, rule /norm based and interpretive alternative of how language is constituted in social life, and analyze the implications of this view on the design and investigation of information systems as linguistic phenomena. Though not a monolithic program, the LAP addresses in a richer way how symbols and world interact, how language is  actually used in social interactions, or why and how language has significant psychological and social effects. It is based on heterogeneous theoretical foundations that range from logic, theories of language and social behaviors to overarching philosophies of social action. In particular, the impact of Habermas, Searle and Heidegger has been significant in rooting the LAP perspective.

Since its inception LAP has made significant progress in developing ontological and epistemological theories of information systems, new modelling approaches and tools, or new computer based coordination tools and environments. In some sense LAP has come of age and can be regarded a specific computing movement, or a unique discourse and voice in the information technology revolution with rich theoretical heritage and strong research tradition. Despite this academic success LAP has not become a significant part of understanding mainstream computing problems and/or how to address them. Very few textbooks draw upon the LAP concepts and the widespread use of the LAP has not taken place in computing world. This talk addresses some of the reasons from economic, diffusion of innovation theory, and sociology of knowledge view points. Some specific actions to overcome this challenge are proposed and discussed.

Kalle Lyytinen is the Iris S. Wolstein Professor of Information Systems at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct professor at the University of Jyvaskyla. Professor Lyytinen was one of the first to develop a language action perspective on information systems. He is well known for his research in computer-supported system design and modeling, system failures and risk assessment, computer-supported cooperative work and the diffusion of complex technologies. He is currently researching the development and management of digital services and the evolution of virtual communities.

Professor Lyytinen has published eight books, over fifty journal articles and over eighty conference presentations and book chapters. He currently serves on the editorial boards of ten information system and organization theory journals and has served in leadership positions for several academic organizations, conferences and journals. He also reviews research grants for the National Science Foundation, the Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish and British Research Councils, and the European Union.

Professor Lyytinen consults to organizations on issues of systems development, new media and mobile commerce. His clients have included large retail chains, global manufacturers, software houses, telecommunications companies, governmental departments and major libraries,

Prior to joining Weatherhead, Professor Lyytinen was the Dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. He has held visiting positions at the Royal Technical Institute of Sweden, the London School of Economics, the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Georgia State University, Aalborg University, The University of Pretoria, South Africa and Erasmus University in the Netherlands.




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