Examining the Relationship between Computer Cartoons and Factors in Information Systems Use, Success, and Failure: Visual Evidence of Met and Unmet Expectations

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Computer cartoons express the inevitable discrepancies in expectations among systems analysts, users, and managers regarding the systems development processes and information systems products. Computer cartoons also address gaps between ideal and actual information systems, or intended versus actual systems. No one sets out to design a system that fails, or a system that is seldom or incorrectly used. It Is hypothesized here that the expectations of users, analysts, and managers are apparent in popular computer cartoons that are widely published, circulated, posted, and shared. Eight broad critical success factors were identified through the CSF literature, and cartoons from the world's largest computerized cartoon database were examined for their existence. Factors identified concerning the IS process include: 1. management support, 2. capable systems analysts, and 3. proper systems development methods. Critical success factors that concern the IS product include whether the information system: 4. works 5. is technically elegant, 6. is easy to use, 7. is a good fit with natural incentives found in the organization, and 8. is a good fit with motivations of users. Illustrative evidence of the eight factors was found in the computer cartoons reviewed and examples of each are presented in this paper. Since cartoons are emblematic expressions of an idea that can be shared, computer cartoons can help users and analysts express their feelings, attitudes, and opinions about information systems development and implementation, it is hoped that the contribution of this study is to bring together the knowledge of critical success factors with the use of computer cartoons to permit analysts and users access to a particularly revealing source of information which spotlights the gap existing between actual and intended information systems processes and products. Many researchers have commented on the desirability of using humor in the workplace; however, this paper is innovative in specifically recommending that using and interpreting computer cartoons can assist in assessing expectations surrounding critical success factors whose attainment shapes the design, implementation, and use of information systems in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-126
Number of pages14
JournalData Base for Advances in Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • cartoons
  • critical success factors
  • humor
  • implementation
  • information systems failure
  • information systems success
  • systems analysis
  • systems analyst
  • systems design
  • systems development
  • user satisfaction


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