Computers in organizations: a survey of PC Week articles between 1984 and 1988

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Virginia Tech

The concern of this thesis is the role technology plays in organizational change. The specific issue addressed is the introduction of personal computers (PCs) into work organizations. A review of the literature suggested that both sociological and technological factors must be taken into account when discussing technological change.

PC Week magazine contains strategies which various companies used in introducing personal computers. A thematic content analysis of PC Week was carried out to test certain hypotheses. The articles were also treated as contemporary historical documents. Questions addressed included whether PCs contribute to centralization or decentralization in organizations, whether PCs differ in their organizational effects to mainframes, whether PCs are more successful in some types of organizations than in others, and whether an "opinion leader" plays a significant role in the introduction of PCs.

From the content analysis and the texts, it was concluded that technology did not determine organizational change. While technology determined the limits of certain tools (PCs), organizational goals determined how PCs were implemented. Limited support was drawn for the suggestion that an opinion leader played a role in PC introduction. Little support was gained for the remaining hypotheses.