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Information Communication and Society
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 13  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 68 - 87

WHY DO THE ORDERS GO WRONG ALL THE TIME? Exploring sustainability in an e-commerce application in Swedish public school kitchens

Christina Mrtberg, Dagny Stuedahl and Sara Alander    

Abstract: In this paper we discuss sustainability, particularly social and cultural sustainability, in relation to an e-commerce application used in the kitchen of a Swedish public school. The notion of sustainability got its public definition through the Brundtland Commission and the report Our Common Future in which ecological as well as economic and social dimensions were underlined. An additional dimension, culture, has recently unfolded. The data reported in this paper were collected in public school and pre-school meal production. This is a large, institutional, tax-funded activity in Sweden as all pre-schools, compulsory schools and most upper secondary schools serve free lunch to the children and students. We discuss how an e-commerce application complicated the daily routines in the school kitchen rather than making the ordering of food stuff easier or more flexible and how small things that mattered in the staff's day-to-day activities shed light on the application's problems and weaknesses. Following Agenda 21, we relate these shortcomings to sustainability and also to participation. The discussion builds on social and cultural sustainability and participatory design with a focus on the involvement of users in design and implementation of IT systems and services.

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