IT professionals' experience of ethics and its implications for IT education

Stoodley, Ian D. (2009) IT professionals' experience of ethics and its implications for IT education. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study investigates variation in IT professionals' experience of ethics with a view to enhancing their formation and support. This is explored through an examination of the experience of IT, IT professional ethics and IT professional ethics education. The study's principal contribution is the empirical study and description of IT professionals' experience of ethics. The empirical phase is preceded by a review of conceptions of IT and followed by an application of the findings to IT education. The study's empirical findings are based on 30 semi-structured interviews with IT professionals who represent a wide demographic, experience and IT sub-discipline range. Their experience of ethics is depicted as five citizenships: Citizenship of my world, Citizenship of the corporate world, Citizenship of a shared world, Citizenship of the client's world and Citizenship of the wider world. These signify an expanding awareness, which progressively accords rights to others and defines responsibility in terms of others. The empirical findings inform a Model of Ethical IT. This maps an IT professional space increasingly oriented towards others. Such a model provides a conceptual tool, available to prompt discussion and reflection, and which may be employed in pursuing formation aimed at experiential change. Its usefulness for the education of IT professionals with respect to ethics is explored. The research approach employed in this study is phenomenography. This method seeks to elicit and represent variation of experience. It understands experience as a relationship between a subject (IT professionals) and an object (ethics), and describes this relationship in terms of its foci and boundaries. The study's findings culminate in three observations, that change is indicated in the formation and support of IT professionals in: 1. IT professionals' experience of their discipline, moving towards a focus on information users; 2. IT professionals' experience of professional ethics, moving towards the adoption of other-centred attitudes; and 3. IT professionals' experience of professional development, moving towards an emphasis on a change in lived experience. Based on these results, employers, educators and professional bodies may want to evaluate how they approach professional formation and support, if they aim to promote a comprehensive awareness of ethics in IT professionals.

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ID Code: 26105
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bruce, Christine, Edwards, Sylvia, & Underwood, Barney
Keywords: information technology, professionalism, ethics, phenomenography, variation theory, education, HERN
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 02 Jul 2009 00:13
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:42

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