About IR
Author instructions
Author index
Subject index
Valid XHTML 1.0!

Introna, L.D. Management, information and power: a narrative of the involved manager. Macmillan, London (1997). xii + 209 pp. ISBN 0-333-69870-3 [No price given]

Lucas Introna (Lecturer in Information Systems at the London School of Economics and Political Science) has produced an interesting and timely book: timely because the information systems field is involved in major debates over the nature of such systems and, particularly, how to design them for effective management support. The author describes his book as "...a rough draft." (p. x) and this shows to some degree in the nature of some of the arguments.

The aim of the book is clearly set out:

This book is an attempt to rearticulate the idea of the manager; the manager in the world; not as the thinking, rational and purposive manager but as the involved manager. (p. ix)

This aim stems from Iltrona's own experience as a manager when, following completion of the MBA and having absorbed and tried to apply all of the neat, rational theorizing, he found that his everyday work: "...seemed messy, unalyzable, unarticulatable, unsolvable and so on" and "No matter how hard one tried to be the manager that they theory said one ought to be, these eloquent models seemed to crumble in the face of the everyday 'getting the job done'" (p. viii). Exploring this problem of the lack of fit between theory and practice led the author to the work of Heidegger, Gadamer, Ashby, Clegg, and others who provide alternative views of what it is to be, the nature of information, the idea of systems, and the nature of power, that provide the structure for the book.

The underpinning idea of the book is that two fundamentally different world-views exist in the management literature: the dominant view for many years, which has governed a great deal of research and management consultancy practice, is that of management as a scientifically-based, rational process. The alternative view, espoused by Iltrona, is that of the involved manager who has his being, as manager, already in the world - already always involved and, for that reason, already aware of much that needs to be done and how to do it, already aware of the next decision to be taken and taking that decision on the basis of his or her understanding of the every day, work-a-day world.

This view, generally set against the alternative, is pursued (following the introduction) through six chapters that deal with the manager involved in the world, information as understanding, management and its derivation from the Latin word manus, and the implications of that origin, power as a network of force relations, managing information, and the implications of the general thesis.

The book can be recommended to students, researchers, teachers and practitioners in the fields of information management and information systems because it is an important contribution to the on-going debate on the nature of information and information systems. It is important because it adopts a phenomenological perspective on the nature of the every-day reality of the manager, and an hermeneutic approach to the nature of information and its use, that are a useful antidote to what I believe (with Iltrona) to have been the failure of the rational, scientistic models and theories of the dominant ideas in information systems.

A more detailed review is forthcoming in the journal Information Processing and Management

Prof. Tom Wilson