About the Sense of Useless Software
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ISSN der Zeitschrift
Integration of Environmental Information in Europe
Environmental Management Information- and Decision Support Systems
Components of environmental management information systems like material flow analysis should be fundamental modules of enterprise resource planning systems. Though environmental management information systems are in development since more than 15 years, this is still not the case. This contribution tries to understand why this is the case. Starting point is another class of successful software solutions: Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and other Web 2.0 applications. Based on Habermas’ concept of lifeworld, this kind of software supports processes in the lifeworld of humans. We can call this kind of software “lifeworld software” whereas environmental management information systems are rather a subclass of “systems software”. Especially regarding environment protection and sustainable development, processes in the lifeworld of humans play an important role. Sustainability stands for a bundle of concepts that do not longer allow “business as usual” in organizations. However, the social subsystems have developed their own action orientations (like profit maximization) and systemic mechanisms. Software systems, which follow the ideas and concepts of sustainable development, are not compatible with these orientations and mechanisms. This is a considerable problem of environmental management information systems. They deal with important challenges in companies and value chains but until now they don’t play an important role in companies because. The same can be said about eco-controlling, sustainable supply chain management etc. One important conclusion of Habermas’ theory of communicative action is that generalized action orientations and systemic mechanisms are results of communication processes. Communication is required to rethink traditional conventions and to find out new orientations. Web-2.0 applications support these processes. So, lifeworld support systems can complement the management information system approaches. Communication processes in the lifeworld allow modifying and changing structures and mechanisms. These processes cannot be planned but effective communication can be supported. Corporate sustainable development can be divided into two phases: (1) a transition phase (here communication support is required) and (2) a new “business as usual” phase (here new management information systems are required).