Automatisering is mensenwerk
: Verwachtingen, beleving en resultaten bij de inzet van informatietechnologie bij de gemeente Zaanstad tussen 1974 en 1996

Translated title of the thesis: Automation is human work: Expectations, experience and results in the use of information technology at the municipality of Zaanstad between 1974 and 1996
  • H Winkel

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    When the municipality of Zaanstad was founded on January 1, 1974, it had three computers and an addressing machine at its disposal. About twenty years later, hundreds of personal computers were in use and the organization was on the eve of the introduction of the Internet. The municipality could no longer do without computers. How did this turnaround come about? In this thesis an answer is sought to the question of how expectations, perceptions and results related to information technology relate to each other. Two complementary concepts were used in this study. To begin with, modernization is understood as the conglomeration of highly interwoven processes that are typical of industrialized society, such as infrastructure, scaling-up, modernization, urbanization, geographic and social mobility, professionalization (including education), secularization, individualization and democratization. The other concept utilized is the framework of the General Enterprise Architecture in which different perspectives are used to analyze IT-related issues of specific organizations. To describe the development of the adopted technology, the term technical regime is used, which is derived from the domain of technology history. The organizational culture perspective is recognized within the GEA framework, but not elaborated. That is why two of the four approaches that Frissen mentions for organizational culture: organizational culture as an aspect system (culture as an aspect of all organizational characteristics) and as a contingency system (the organizational culture in relation to the environment of the organization) have been chosen.
    This research was carried out in the traditional way on archives formed by the Secretariat and some services and directorates of the Municipality of Zaanstad. It is emphatically recorded who the individuals involved were, what their actions and views were. After all, it is about people's work. An important observation is that in that period of about twenty years, more than 340 individuals played some role. Six categories of actors are distinguished: municipal councilors, administrators, senior civil servants, managers, employees and external parties. Within these groups one may find a group of forerunners who propelled the introduction of information technology. This consists of internal organizational consultants, internal IT experts and managers. A threefold shift in involvement and influences can be discerned between these groups: from the municipal council to the municipal executive, from the executive to the top official and within the official top from the Municipal Secretary to the directors of services and management.
    The necessity or inevitability of information technology has hardly ever been questioned. The purpose of the use of information technology was also undisputed, namely to improve the efficiency of the organization. This was understandable, given that during that first period of the Municipality of Development Board (Ontwikkelingsschap), a regional partnership that had stood at the cradle of the municipality. This financial problem was exacerbated by a combination of a series of cutbacks by the national government, rising unemployment and other money-consuming local problems.
    The undisputed goal of information technology was contrasted with a permanent discussion about 'the how'. In particular, the question of control remained unsolved. Within the new municipality there was a constant battle going on in the civil service between the Secretariat, services and directorates. The decision-making about and the use of information technology was greatly frustrated as a result. The abolition of the Secretariat, which led to even more directorates, went hand in hand with the introduction of integrated management. This management philosophy fitted in well with the prevailing organizational culture in which there was difficult mutual cooperation and a strong tendency towards the formation of personal fiefdoms. Integral management was facilitated by the predominant key technologies (mini- and personal computers) in the first half of the 1990s. The question remains to what extent this management philosophy has contributed to the effectiveness of the resources deployed. Four factors were decisive in the interplay of expectations, perception and results in the use of information technology at the municipality of Zaanstad between 1974 and 1996: scarcity of finances, changes in technology, management conflicts and above all the organizational culture. The first two were quite constant in nature, while the other two were a constant source of unrest. Nevertheless, much has been achieved because many continued to do their work despite all.Zaanstad, the Netherlands had to deal with a deep economic crisis. The board of the new municipality was heavily indebted as a result of large land purchases by the
    Date of Award30 May 2022
    Original languageDutch
    SupervisorJanny Bloembergen - Lukkes (Supervisor) & Susan Hogervorst (Supervisor)


    • cultural studies
    • history

    Master's Degree

    • Master Kunst en Cultuurwetenschappen

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