The Information Systems Academic Discipline in Australia

The Information Systems Academic Discipline in Australia

Guy G. Gable
Shirley Gregor
Roger Clarke
Gail Ridley
Robert Smyth
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hf43
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  • Book Info
    The Information Systems Academic Discipline in Australia
    Book Description:

    This book represents the second phase of a multi-method, multi-study of the 'Information Systems Academic Discipline in Australia'. Drawing on Whitley's Theory of Scientific Change, the study analysed the degree of 'professionalisation' of the Information Systems Discipline, the overarching research question being 'To what extent is Information Systems a distinct and mature discipline in Australia?' The book chapters are structured around three main sections: a) the context of the study; b) the state case studies; and c) Australia-wide evidence and analysis. The book is crafted to be accessible to IS and non-IS types both within and outside of Australia. It represents a 'check point'; a snapshot at a point in time. As the first in a hoped for series of such snap-shots, it includes a brief history of IS in Australia, bringing us up to the time of this report. The editorial team comprises Guy Gable, architect and leader; Bob Smyth, project manager; Shirley Gregor, sponsor, host and co-theoretician; Roger Clarke, discipline memory; and Gail Ridley, theoretician. In phase two, the editors undertook to examine each component study, with a view to arriving at an Australia-wide perspective.

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-94-3
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)

    This book represents the second phase of a multi-method, multiple study of the ‘information systems academic discipline in Australia’. In the first phase, conducted between 2005 and 2006 and drawing on Whitley’s theory of scientific change, the study analysed the degree of ‘professionalisation’ of the information systems (IS) discipline, the overarching research question being, ‘To what extent is IS a distinct and mature discipline in Australia?’ Completion of the first phase of the study was marked by publication, in December 2006, of a special edition (vol. 14, no. 1) of the Australasian Journal of Information Systems (AJIS).

    The second phase...

  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xxviii)
  5. The context
    • 1. The information systems discipline in Australian universities: a contextual framework
      (pp. 3-46)
      Guy G. Gable

      This book represents the second phase of a multi-method, multiple study of the IS academic discipline in Australian universities (the ‘IS-in-Oz’ study). In the first phase, drawing on Whitley’s theory of scientific change as encapsulated in a framework proposed by Ridley (2006a) the study analyses the degree of ‘professionalisation’ of the IS discipline, the overarching research question being, ‘To what extent is IS a distinct and mature discipline in Australia?’ Completion of the first phase of the study was marked by publication, in December 2006, of a special edition (vol. 14, no. 1) of the Australasian Journal of Information Systems...

    • 2. A retrospective of the information systems discipline in Australia
      (pp. 47-108)
      Roger Clarke

      The IS discipline has mostly been too concerned about ensuring its future to spend much time celebrating its past, or even understanding it. As pioneers retire, however, the time has come to consolidate sources and memories and provide some historical background to this vibrant but often troubled field.

      Research into the discipline’s birth led to 1965 and 1967 as the most tenable start dates. The analysis reaches beyond 1995 only selectively. This is partly because of the scale of the undertaking, and partly because lack of perspective makes it much more difficult to write convincingly about ‘recent history’ than about...

    • 3. Characterising academic information systems in Australia: developing and evaluating a theoretical framework
      (pp. 109-148)
      Gail Ridley

      The study reported in this monograph aims to investigate the state of the information systems (IS) academic discipline in Australia from a historical and current perspective, collecting evidence across a range of dimensions. To maximise the strategic potential of the study, the results need to be capable of integration, so that the relationships within and across the dimensions and geographical units are understood. A meaningful theoretical framework will help relate the results of the different dimensions of the study to characterise the discipline in the region, and assist in empowering the Australian IS research community. This chapter reviewed literature on...

  6. The state case studies
    • 4. The information systems discipline in Australia’s capital
      (pp. 151-172)
      Shirley Gregor, Edward Lewis and Craig McDonald

      A study of the state of the IS discipline in the Australian Capital Territory could be expected to show some distinctive characteristics, as all universities are relatively small and are situated in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, which is the home of the federal government. With this proximity to government and national institutions it would perhaps not be surprising to find the impact of local contingencies stronger than in other states.

      In this chapter, we present our analysis of IS in three universities in the Australian Capital Territory, allowing for a comparison with other states in an accompanying chapter in this...

    • 5. The information systems discipline in New South Wales universities
      (pp. 173-186)
      Jim Underwood and Ernie Jordan

      The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is a significant part of the NSW economy, ranked seventeenth in the world according to a NSW government report (NSW Government 2001). This report also suggests that this significance is reflected in some 70 per cent of the top 250 Australian IT head offices being located in New South Wales. There are long-established university programs that support this economy. As New South Wales is the most populous state, it is natural that there are more universities and more programs to report on than in other states. This report will concentrate on those universities...

    • 6. The information systems academic discipline in Queensland
      (pp. 187-208)
      Bob Smyth and Guy G. Gable

      For the IS community world-wide, this is a period of great turbulence. In 2002, there was an unprecedented downturn in demand for information technology (IT) skills, resulting in a sharp decline in student entry to university IT courses. Information systems courses have been among those affected by the downturn. The impact of the decline in demand for IS skills has been heightened by the fact that, unlike engineering for example, IT had never previously experienced anything but continuing growth. Indeed, in the years leading up to the IT downturn the demand for skills had been overwhelming, fuelled by the dotcom...

    • 7. Information systems in South Australia: a critical investigation
      (pp. 209-228)
      Paula M. C. Swatman and Andy Koronios

      South Australia is the fourth-largest of the Australian states, with a population of 1.7 million; and it is central to Australia, being the only state to share a border with all other mainland Australian states. It is often referred to as the driest state in the driest inhabited continent of the world. Instead of the convict past common to most of the Australian states, South Australia was settled freely as a British province and proclaimed officially in 1836. It also has a strong German heritage resulting from several decades of German migration in the early to mid-1800s, which has left...

    • 8. The information systems discipline in Tasmania
      (pp. 229-258)
      Gail Ridley

      The current chapter reports on a study of the state of the IS discipline in the only university in Tasmania, and draws on a theoretical framework outlined in an earlier chapter in this volume. The theoretical construct that guides this investigation will not be restated. This study is one of a series of similar studies undertaken in each Australian state and the Australian Capital Territory, and reported on elsewhere in this volume. This chapter extends on an earlier publication, published in the Australian Journal of Information Systems (Ridley 2006).

      Tasmania is a unique state in Australia as it has only...

    • 9. The information systems discipline in Victoria
      (pp. 259-280)
      Carol E. Pollard and Elsie S. K. Chan

      Information systems is a fascinating and pervasive discipline that has struggled in the past three decades to establish itself as a distinct scientific discipline. This has proved somewhat difficult and elusive, possibly due in part to the fact that IS is not confined only to business activities but profoundly affects our social activities (see, for example, Buckingham et al. 1987; DeSouza et al. 2006; Lee 2001; Lo 1989; Fielden 1990; Ang 1992; Ang and Lo 1991; Avison 1993; ACM

      et al. 1997; Clarke 1999; Tatnall 1999).

      [T]he information systems field examines more than just the technological system, or just the...

    • 10. Information systems teaching and research in West Australian universities
      (pp. 281-292)
      Janice Burn, Craig Standing and Chad Lin

      Western Australia is the largest state in Australia, spanning 2400 km from north to south and encompassing more than 2.5 million square kilometres. The state is fairly isolated from the rest of Australia and still maintains something of a ‘frontier’ mentality. This is compounded by the low population, with only two million inhabitants, approximately 73 per cent of whom live in the capital city of Perth, which has a current population of 1.5 million. The rest of Western Australia is populated by small country towns, which are typically remote from other centres and many of which lack basic infrastructure such...

  7. Australia-wide
    • 11. A longitudinal study of information systems research in Australia
      (pp. 295-306)
      Graham Pervan and Graeme Shanks

      The first academic programs in IS appeared in Australia in the late 1960s and have grown steadily to be available in almost all Australian universities. While the teaching of IS has grown, the growth of IS research has been slower and few studies have examined its progress. Ridley et al. (1998) studied publication performance over a seven-year period, but there has been no longitudinal study of the research profile of IS in Australian universities.

      This chapter explores the Australian IS research field along lines similar to part of the study conducted by Avgerou et al. (1999) in Europe, except that...

    • 12. The information systems academic discipline in Australian universities: a meta-analysis
      (pp. 307-342)
      Gail Ridley, Guy Gable, Bob Smyth, Shirley Gregor and Roger Clarke

      This chapter sets out a consolidation and interpretation of data from previous chapters in this volume. By doing so it aims, in part, to present an overview of the IS academic discipline in Australian universities through the lens of the theoretical framework developed for the study by Ridley, which appears in Chapter 3 of this volume. The framework was derived from Whitley’s theory of scientific change (1984a, 1984b).

      An assumption behind the framework is that the development of IS in Australian universities is a response to the pressures that act on the discipline. The framework provides a common means of...

  8. Glossary of terms
    (pp. 343-346)