|Following the first international workshop at Twente in
1995, a research community of organisational semiotics has formed. This
community has committed themselves to inquiries in information and its use
within organisational contexts. The broad issues that concern community are
philosophical, social and technical, and are encouraged to tackle using
semiotic concepts and methods from an organisational perspective.
Most of the researchers in the community adopt the working definition of Organisational Semiotics, proposed at the first workshop; though as any other discipline, concepts and theories evolve all the time. Organisational Semiotics is seen as a discipline that enables us to understand the inter-working and interactions between individuals and within the society, between human and technology. Organisational Semiotics opens up the prospect for scientific theory building and provides a handle for gaining an insight of organised behaviour, in the presence and absence of various technologies. Methods and techniques developed based on this theory provide insights into organised behaviour and enacted social practices. The broad issues that concern the researchers in this field are philosophical, social and technical, studied using existing and newly developed semiotic theories and methods.
Organisational Semiotics shares common interests with many other approaches to information and organisations, such as "Computer Semiotics", "Organisational Engineering" and "Language Action Approach to IS", which has been reflected in the chapters included in the book. The common vision shared by these approaches is to treat organisations and related information systems and technologies within a unified semiotic framework, with particular reference to the huge range of issues that elude many traditional disciplines.
A strong motivation behind this research community is from the recognition that computer science does not concern itself with the human issues. The social study of IT impacts does not address the fine details of how information functions within and between organisations. The analysis and design of information systems develops methods for solving the practical problems preceding software engineering but offers no scientific foundation for them. Those disciplines are not appropriate for addressing many of the problems caused by the rapid growth of global communications with its effects on business, government, the economy and politics. A semiotic perspective can accommodate the individual and the social, the human and the technical, intra-firm and inter-firm interactions, at a level of detail that is required in studying, modelling, designing and engineering organisational and technical systems.
The research community meets regularly, through the annual workshops. At the workshops, “new” researchers and “regular” attendees exchange views and share findings freely.
Most workshops lead to a book containing selected works. Some of the papers presented at OS-2004 will be submitted to the Systems, Signs & Action Journal. The community has been considering launch an e-journal on Organisational Semiotics soon.