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Reflections on Associative Constraints and Possibilities in an Information Society


Originally appeared in Transnational Associations, 1987, 3, pp. 168-182 [PDF version]


1. Introduction
Forms of organized action
Variety of information policies
Dimensions of the information society
Identification of transformative opportunities
Challenges faced by organizations
Selected innovation possibilities
References

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1. Introduction

The purpose of this report is to explore some ways of looking at the emerging information society which may help to clarify the future challenges and opportunities of international bodies. Much has already been said in the media about the 'information society', to a large extent inspired by those attempting to sell their products and services, whether or not they are appropriate to the emerging needs of potential users. It is therefore useful to place such elements of the information society in a context which draws attention to the needs of international bodies concerned with issues such as development and the environment.

In the light of the theme of the debate, the focus is on the opportunities for the future. But in order to give substance to such an exercise, it is useful to clarify the existing forms of international organization action and the limitations which constrain their wider use. Only by recognizing the limitations of past forms of action is it possible to avoid the classical trap of seeking ways to implement such forms within future information systems, without examining the opportunities for alternative forms of action, whether as complements or substitute.

ning the opportunities for alternative forms of action, whether as complements or substitute.