This book provides one of the first clear-headed assessments of information technology and organizational transformation. Its virtue is not so much in its recognition of the importance of the subject; speculations on this topic have been rampant for more than a decade. Rather, it is unusual and unusually useful, because it avoids speculation in favor of conceptually coherent accounts grounded in empirical study of actual organizations. The chapters contained in this volume move beyond the superficial glorification of information technology as an extraordinary instrument of social change, and straight to the heart of the mechanisms of change as they play out in everyday organizational life. In the process, they reaffirm that the real story of information technology in organizations is more about people than about technology. Taken together, they provide an important contribution to the intellectual foundations of one of the most interesting developments in decades.

Chapter 7: Big Brother Goes Portable: End-User Computing in the Internal Revenue Service

Big Brother Goes Portable: End-User Computing in the Internal Revenue Service

Big brother goes portable: End-user computing in the internal revenue service
Brian T.Pentland

The Automated Examination System is the first substantive change in the way we do business in decades. First, it was quill and parchment, then 14-column paper and mechanical pencils, and now the computer.

—Chief of Examination, midwestern Internal Revenue Service district

In July 1986, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched Phase 1 of the Automated Examination System (AES). Within 18 months, more than 14,000 revenue agents and their managers had been given laptop portable computers, software, and training. I visited four IRS offices during the summer of 1987 and again during the summer of 1988.1 discovered that in spite of overall uniformity in organizational context, ...

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