The introduction of virtual reality media into engineering or technology-based organizations is investigated and a taxonomy for identifying determinants for successful introduction of such media, is developed in the form of a taxonometric planning framework. The research addresses the continuing convergence and integration of digital electronic media, in particular, virtual reality technology and systems, as an exemplary application of new media. This is addressed as a strategic and potentially radical and disruptive innovation. The proposed taxonomy framework is intended as a means of aiding organizations to determine their preparedness or potential adaptability to meet, manage and use new media technology to optimal affect and to manage effectively the demands and impacts of potentially disruptive, technological change. The thesis itself explores and develops the theme that communicative media entail a specific lexicon or language of use that continually evolves, and to be effective, must be understood, at least within its community of practice. In turn, the cultural impact of using virtual reality technology and systems, and the use of virtual representation and virtual world modelling as reflecting events or behaviours and desired outcomes in the real world, is discussed throughout the thesis from a socio-technical perspective. Overall, the taxonomy represents a ‘new way of thinking’ about the introduction and implementation of new media and virtual reality based systems.
An adaptation of Checkland & Scholes (1990) Soft-Systems Methodology (SSM) is the core research methodology implemented throughout the research program. Research activity has incorporated use of advanced visualization systems in the Virtual Reality Centre of RMIT University’s Interactive Information Institute (I3), development of a Virtual Reality Users Survey and associated analysis instrument, and a meta-analysis of secondary sources. Collectively, these form the core data collection strategies. The research is characterized by a strongly interdisciplinary approach, exploring the potentialities for and impact of new media and virtual reality systems on the management of technologybased organizations. The taxonomy is a step towards developing a theory of the dynamics of complex technology-based organizations and the various transformations that can occur with the introduction of new and potentially disruptive technology.
It is asserted that effective alignment of strategic information and communications technologies with organizational strategic goals and a range of sociological factors, can lead to successful introduction of potentially disruptive technology (in this case: new media based virtual reality) in engineering and technology management environments. It is argued further that the transformative effect of introducing new media technology such as virtual reality, can be catalytic toward producing and driving paradigmatic transformation within an organization.