A Human-Centred Framework for Eliciting Users' Embedded Knowledge Requirements during Information Systems Development

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Despite considerable research widely acknowledging that embedded knowledge is a necessity for successful development and implementation of information systems, there has been insufficient empirical research carried out in this area. Existing literature has been significant in directing attention towards the importance of embedded knowledge and the determinants that affect its transfer. However, it offered little insight into the actual knowledge transfer process itself. Thus, the research set out to investigate and understand how user embedded knowledge requirements could be transferred from the user to developer and then elicited by the developer during the systems development process. An interpretive multi-case study approach based upon interviews, reflective practices, observation and document analysis was chosen. The findings presented in this thesis illustrate the knowledge transfer processes that were used by systems developers to ensure the successful elicitation of the users’ embedded knowledge requirements. The analysis of both case studies supported the initial conceptualisations that participation in the users’ context, observations, investigation of the informal networks, personal interactions, user collaboration and storytelling result in the transfer of these requirements between the system users and developers. Since this research was interested in understanding the transfer of knowledge for systems development, it relied upon the human centred systems theory for its theoretical explanations. From this study, a number of important practical and theoretical contributions arose. For example, the detailed case description provided substantial insights into the knowledge transfer processes and techniques that should be employed during every stage of the development lifecycle. By utilising these processes and techniques, developers can ensure that the developed system will meet and support the users’ working practices and knowledge needs. Indeed, for these requirements to be successfully elicited, the developer must collaborate and involve the users throughout the development lifecycle at every stage. The research has also contributed to theory by expanding the literature on information systems development. For instance, the development of a model that would allow systems developers to identify and elicit embedded knowledge requirements is a significant contribution to theory as it has not been researched before. Furthermore, this research has expanded the literature on knowledge transfer by illustrating that knowledge transfer processes do not transpire as a sequential orderly progression but are complex and occur simultaneously.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Stapleton, Lawrence, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


  • Information systems develompent


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