IS Theory Development and Use

 

Track Chairs

Susan Gasson, Drexel University, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Walter Fernandez, University of New South Wales, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chris Westrup, University of Manchester, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Gasson Fernandez  
     

 

Lewin’s famous statement ‘There is nothing more practical than a good theory,’ (Lewin,1952, p. 169) rings as a call for action for Information Systems (IS) researchers wanting to produce theories that are useful and also as an alert. In IS, the need for good theory has been well articulated for many years (Whetten, 1989, Watson, 2001, Weber, 2004, among others). We believe that responding to these calls has become critical to the future of the IS discipline. Our ability to produce good IS theory is of great importance to our research; our relation to the management and use of IS; and to our place in academe.  

In creating this new track we are responding to calls for the development and use of IS theories by supporting and promoting the efforts of those IS researchers who are working on theory development. We believe that a healthy discipline needs to be pluralistic in the production of theories that are useful for, analysing, explaining, predicting, explaining and predicting, and for design and action (a classification advanced by Gregor, 2006) and for exploring, since we use theories as an epistemological lens, as well as an ontological lens.

Therefore, the aim of this track is to invite contributions seeking to further the IS theory development agenda and to stimulate debate, but first we wish to stake out some of the areas we find important.

One pole, in this multipolar area, is that of relevance – relevance to the management and use of IS, and relevance to existing theory within information systems and other areas of academe (Benbasat and Zmud, 2003; Davidson, 2011; Lyytinen & King, 2004; Sawyer and Winter, 2011).  This is a crowded area.  Other areas of academe increasingly consider the domain of technologies as integral to their disciplines and understanding of the world while the use of information systems themselves generates empirical evidence and theorization independently of IS research (Burrows and Savage, 2013; Halford et al. 2013).  Thus, the prize here is to build research traditions that speak to practitioners, students, and other areas of academe alike.

A second pole, not unrelated to the first, is the role of theory.  New researchers are confronted with multiple theories (Larsen et al. 2014), yet a continuing critique is that most theories are extracted from other disciplines leaving the role of theory as a rather static framework to explain the data. The dangers here are well known: for example, not allowing the research experience to ‘speak’, and using theories which have changed since they have been extracted from their original discipline.

A third and related pole, is one of epistemology, how we practice the theories we espouse, and an area with close connections to the research methodology track (Davison and Martinsons, 2011).  Interesting developments in theory, especially drawing on the social sciences and science and technology studies (Cecez-Kecmanovic et al. 2014) show how the weaving of ontological and epistemological concerns are important in moving long lasting debates forward. For instance, how do we relate theory building efforts to each other? How important are replication studies, and how does this stack up against the quest for a unique contribution?

A fourth pole, again related to the others, focuses on the objects of research (Yoo, 2013), and may also question the disinterestedness of most approaches.  These concerns are exemplified in calls to move beyond the workplace as the site of investigation on the one hand (Sawyer and Winter 2011), and critically to attend to questions of ethics, power relations, and resources on the other (Walsham, 2012).  

In short, this track invites submissions from a diverse range of perspectives around (not necessarily restricted) to these themes.

  • Themes
  • How may IS theory become relevant to different audiences?
  • What is the relevance of social science theoretical perspectives on digital phenomena to information systems?
  • Is there such a thing as an IS theory, and how should one be developed?
  • What can grounded theory contribute to IS theory development and use?
  • Can we have productive engagement with other disciplines or must IS theory always borrow from others?
  • Is rigor in IS theory development a help, or a hindrance, towards relevance to other audiences?
  • What grounds are there for IS theory development and use encompassing ‘substantivist’ and ‘process’ positions?
  • Where should the focus of IS theory development be directed?
  • What contributions can critical theories impart to IS theory development and use?

References
Beath, C., Berente, N., Gallivan, M. J., & Lyytinen, K. (2013). Expanding the Frontiers of Information Systems Research: Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 14(4), 4. i-xvi.

 

Associate Editors

Nicolas Berente, UGA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Martin Brigham, Lancaster University, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Monica J. Garfield, Bentley University, Boston MA USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Anita Greenhill, University of Manchester, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
David Gurzick, Dept. of Economics and Business Administration, Hood College, USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Niall Hayes, Lancaster University, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Barbara Hewitt, Texas A&M University, San Antonio TX, USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dirk Hovorka, University of Sydney, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jannis Kallinikos, LSE, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Arnold Kamis, Suffolk University, Boston, MA USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jo-Anne Kelder, University of Tasmania, Australia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Na "Lina" Li, Baker College, Flint MI, USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Shirin Madon, LSE, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chris McLean, University of Manchester, UK, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Gianluca Miscione, University College Dublin, Ireland, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Carsten Oesterlund, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, NY USA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
David Pauleen, Massey University, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Joao Vieira da Cunha, Universidade Europeia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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