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Chapter VIII: Bringing the User into the... > PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS - Pg. 108

Bringing the User into the Project Development Process technical, rather than human or organizational, terms and underscores the inability of any one group to understand or anticipate the complex impact a product will have on an organization and its people. Closely related to technological determinism, philosophical perspectives about the ultimate impact of a new product on an organization often affect how users perceive and use a product. In general, users tend to have either a utopian or dystopian view of technology's impact on an organization (Rubin, 1996). Utopian perspectives see technology as increasing the productivity, efficiency, and capacity of a worksite while re- ducing stress, errors, and other negative aspects. Utopian perspectives see the advance of technol- ogy leading to a gradual improvement of work conditions and, ultimately, to a perfect or, nearly perfect, work environment (Surry & Farquhar, 1997). Conversely, dystopian perspectives see developers view the end users merely as passive recipients of technology, they underestimate both the creative, subversive, and adaptive capabilities of the users and the potential of their own prod- ucts. Johnson (1998) suggests that developers of technology should move from a systems-centered model, which has been the predominate approach, to a user-centered model. In the systems-centered model, developers assume they have adequate understanding of the issues, context, and problems to develop the most appropriate solution. In the user-centered model, the needs and experiences of the user serve as the focus for development and users actively participate in the design and development of the product. There is a solid theoretical foundation to support the belief that users should be active participants in the product development process. Researchers in a broad range of areas from diffu- sion of innovations, to management, to philosophy