Information Systems Foundations: Theory, Representation and Reality

Information Systems Foundations: Theory, Representation and Reality

Dennis N. Hart
Shirley D. Gregor
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Information Systems Foundations: Theory, Representation and Reality
    Book Description:

    This volume contains the papers presented at the third biennial Information Systems Foundations ('Theory, Representation and Reality') Workshop, held at The Australian National University in Canberra from 27-28 September 2006. The focus of the workshop was, as for the others in the series, the foundations of Information Systems as an academic discipline. The particular emphasis was, as in past workshops, the adequacy and completeness of theoretical underpinnings and the research methods employed. At the same time the practical nature of the applications and phenomena with which the discipline deals were kept firmly in view. Accordingly, the papers in this volume range from the unashamedly theoretical n their focus (Designing for Mutability in Information Systems Artifacts; Towards a Unified Theory of Fit: Task, Technology and Individual) to the much more practically oriented (An Action-Centred Approach to Conceptualising Information Support for Routine Work). The contents of this volume will be of interest and relevance to academics and advanced students as well as thoughtful and reflective practitioners in the Information Systems field.

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-14-1
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Dennis Hart and Shirley Gregor
  4. The Papers
    (pp. ix-x)
    Dennis Hart and Shirley Gregor
  5. Theory
    • Designing for Mutability in Information Systems Artifacts
      (pp. 3-24)
      Shirley Gregor and Juhani Iivari

      Information systems (IS) is increasingly represented as a discipline that is concerned with the design, construction and use of artifacts based on information technology (IT) (see Weber, 1987; March and Smith, 1995; Dahlbom, 1996; Orlikowski and Iacono, 2001; Benbasat and Zmud, 2003; Hevner et al., 2004). The term ‘artifact’, however, tends to be used in a rather unreflective and undifferentiated manner and the distinctive characteristics of this class of artifact are not discussed. There is little critical examination of the assumptions that underlie different treatments of artifacts. One assumption we believe should be questioned is the view that an IS/IT...

    • The Effect of the Application Domain in IS Problem Solving: A Theoretical Analysis
      (pp. 25-48)
      Iris Vessey

      Domain knowledge, which is fundamental to all disciplines (Alexander, 1992), is knowledge of the area to which a set of theoretical concepts is applied. Domain knowledge has long been acknowledged as an important avenue of inquiry in educational research (see, for example, Alexander, 1992; Alexander and Judy, 1988) with studies being conducted in such diverse areas as physics and economics, on the one hand, and history and reading, on the other. Such studies have found that thinking is dominated by content and skills that are domain-specific (McPeck, 1990), and that the lack of domain knowledge results in inelegant problem-solving strategies...

    • Towards a Unified Theory of Fit: Task, Technology and Individual
      (pp. 49-70)
      Michael J. Davern

      Predicting and explaining how information technology (IT) affects human and organisational performance is a key task for information systems (IS) researchers (e.g. Seddon, 1997; Hitt and Brynjolfsson, 1996; Delone and McLean, 1992). Such research can improve understanding of the business value impacts of information technology (e.g. Davern and Kauffman, 1998), and can yield managerial interventions and design prescriptions for more effective use of IS.

      The focus in this study is how IT affects individual task performance. IT value creation becomes concrete and most controllable at the level of the individual user, within a specific task and business process context (Davern...

    • Are Routine Manual Systems Genuine Information Systems?
      (pp. 71-90)
      Reeva Lederman and Robert Johnston

      Information systems can be computerised or manual, with many manual information systems such as paper ledgers or Kalamazoo accounting systems being noted in the literature (Benson and Standing, 2002; Boddy et al., 2005; Land, 1987; Stair and Reynolds, 2003). However, examples of manual systems given in the literature are generally of systems where written data is stored on paper and there is a relatively simple translation to a computerised model (Checkland and Howell, 1998; Land, 1987). Descriptions of systems in the literature and also real world experience suggests, however, that there is a category of systems whose members support the...

  6. Representation
    • Extending the Scope of Representation Theory: A Review and Proposed Research Model
      (pp. 93-114)
      Jan Recker, Michael Rosemann, Peter Green and Marta Indulska

      The information systems discipline is relatively new. It evolved at the intersection of historically well-established research fields such as management science, computer science, organisational theory and others (Vessey et al., 2002). Researchers studying in the IS area have mostly originated from one of these reference disciplines, bringing with them not only a range of methods and methodologies but also a diversity of underlying philosophical assumptions about research and, going deeper, regarding understanding and cognition of reality, language and truth. However, since we understand our discipline is concerned with ‘the effective design, delivery, use and impact of information technology in organisations...

    • Indexing Research: An Approach to Grounding Ingarden’s Ontological Framework
      (pp. 115-132)
      John W Lamp and Simon Milton

      Roman Ingarden developed a number of conceptual and methodological frameworks for ontological analysis of texts, which are documented in his books The Literary Work Of Art (1965) and The Cognition of the Literary Work Of Art (1968). While Ingarden’s primary focus was on mainstream literature, he also considered scientific works along with a number of other literary forms as borderline cases of the literary work of art. We are presently involved in a project, a significant aspect of which involves the analysis of papers reporting information systems research in academic journals. A broader description of this project and a discussion...

    • Using Protocol Analysis to Explore the Creative Requirements Engineering Process
      (pp. 133-152)
      Lemai Nguyen and Graeme Shanks

      Requirements engineering (RE), an early phase in information systems (IS) development, has been commonly agreed to be one of the most crucial phases in the development process (e.g. Boehm, 1981; Loucopoulos and Karakostas, 1995; Nuseibeh and Easterbrook, 2000). RE is concerned with the elicitation, modelling and specification of user requirements for the new system to be built. Recently, creativity has been increasingly seen as playing an important role in RE (Nguyen et al., 2000; Maiden and Gizikis, 2001; Robertson, 2005; Nguyen and Swatman, 2006; Maiden and Robertson, 2005).

      Creativity involves the exploration of conceptual spaces by people in order to...

    • Poles Apart or Bedfellows? Re-conceptualising Information Systems Success and Failure
      (pp. 153-168)
      Dennis Hart and Leoni Warne

      Information systems success and failure have been much discussed in the literature for many years (e.g. Brooks, 1974; Davis et al, 1992; DeLone and McLean, 1992; Fortune and Peters, 2005; Lucas, 1975; Lyytinen and Hirschheim, 1987; McFarlan, 1981; Sauer, 1993). It seems, however, that the general assumption in all of these cases has been that the two concepts, success and failure, are inverses of each other. That is, a failure is by definition not a success and vice versa. While this appears natural enough and in accord with common sense, we argue against this view in this paper contending instead...

  7. Reality
    • An Action-Centred Approach to Conceptualising Information Support for Routine Work
      (pp. 171-196)
      Vivienne Waller, Robert B Johnston and Simon K Milton

      Conventional information systems attempt to represent the real world (Weber, 1997). As the real world changes, the information system is updated. In other words, the information system enables tracking of state changes in the real-world system. As Weber points out:

      … building, operating, maintaining, and observing the states of the information system must be less costly than observing the states of the real-world phenomena. Otherwise, there is little point to building the information system. We might as well observe the real-world phenomena directly (Weber, 1997).

      In this paper, we present the case for a situated system, a radically different type...

    • Emergent Conversational Technologies That Are Democratising Information Systems in Organisations: The Case of the Corporate Wiki
      (pp. 197-210)
      Helen Hasan and Charmaine C Pfaff

      Together with Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile telephones, conversational technologies such as email, discussion forums, chatrooms, weblogs and wikis have been readily adopted in civil society and are transforming the way many of us access information. We now conduct transactions and connect with others anywhere and any time in our everyday lives. However, these transforming systems are often treated with suspicion by the organisations in which we work (frequently with outmoded ICT tools and limitations imposed by management on our social uses of email, telephone and the Internet in general). It is proposed in this paper that in the...

    • A Road Less Travelled: Exploratory Practice-Driven Theory Development Opportunities in IS Project Management
      (pp. 211-230)
      Peter Reynolds and Philip Yetton

      This paper focuses on a high potential and under-utilised research approach to improve, through the development and application of new theory, IS project management performance. The development of theory to improve IS project management performance presents a major challenge to the IS discipline since IS project management has limited explicit theory (Shenhar, 1998; Williams, 2005) and delivers poor performance in practice with slow learning over time (Johnson et al., 2001; Standish Group, 2003, 2004).

      This paper highlights the potential of ‘exploratory practice-driven research’, which builds on Kilduff’s (2006) comments about the opportunities for deriving influential theories from the observation of...

    • A Multi-Paradigm Approach to Grounded Theory
      (pp. 231-246)
      Walter Fernández, Michael A. Martin, Shirley Gregor, Steven E. Stern and Michael Vitale

      When the seminal work of Glaser and Strauss was published in 1967, grounded theory was proposed as a general method independent of a particular research paradigm. This early premise rarely, if ever, is mentioned in the current literature and thus many researchers perceive the method as being entirely within the domain of qualitative research, neglecting the fact that one of the cornerstones of the grounded theory method was the quantitative work of Barney Glaser (1964).

      Glaser (1964), in an exploratory study of the professional careers of organisational scientists, presented many of the core elements of the grounded theory methodology. His...

    • The Methodological and Theoretical Foundations of Decision Support Systems Research
      (pp. 247-262)
      David Arnott and Graham Pervan

      Decision support systems (DSS) is the part of the information systems (IS) discipline that is focused on supporting and improving managerial decision making. Essentially, DSS is about developing and deploying IT-based systems to support decision processes. It is perhaps the most buoyant area of contemporary IS practice (Graham, 2005) and the decisions made using these systems can fundamentally change the nature of an organisation. To help define the field, Arnott and Pervan (2005) presented a history of DSS that focused on the evolution of a number of sub-groupings of research and practice. These DSS types are:

      Personal DSS: usually small-scale...