Costs and Benefits of the Workaround: Inventive Solution or Costly Alternative

International Journal of Education Management
January 1st, 2004
Publication Author: 
Petrides, L. A., McClelland, S., & Nodine, T.
Resource Type: 

In the current climate of increased accountability in higher education, many colleges and universities are considering ways to improve their collection and analysis of data and information to achieve organizational improvement. While there has been much written about the costs, difficulties, and challenges of implementing new information systems on college campuses, the costs and benefits of maintaining current systems are not well understood. Our research suggests that in a challenging information environment, enterprising individuals – when unable to obtain the data they need from existing information systems – compensate by creating, or participating in, idiosyncratic methods of data collection and management. These informal practices – called workarounds – can be seen as both inventive solutions to pressing organizational needs and over time, and costly alternative to a robust and flexible information system.

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