IS Research 1IS Research: Its Past, Present, and Future by Edgardo Donovan ITM 699 – Dr. Wenli Wang Module 1 – Case Analysis Monday, January 25, 2010
IS Research 2 IS Research: Its Past, Present, and Future Because of the interdisciplnary nature of IS research scholars have emerged from varied backgrounds: organization science, computer science, information science, engineering, economics, and management science/operations research. IZAK BENBASAT MIS Quarterly, 2003 nformation systems research is a relatively new academic discipline which has increased in importance over the past 50 years as the rate of information technology adoption has evolved dramatically. Decision support/design science, value of information, human-computer systems design, IS organization and strategy are the main IS research streamsthat are of great interest not only to information systems practitioners and scholars but areextremely relevant to the average information worker as well. The massive growth ofinformation systems research has also contributed to its identity crisis. Informationsystems research is being drawn upon by other traditional research disciplines such asorganization science, management science, and computer science as they too recognize theinformation systems component pervading their fields. The 2004 research article titled “The Evolution of Research on Information Systems:A Fiftieth-Year Survey of the Literature” by Rajiv Banker published in the literary journal“Management Science” outlines five research streams that constitute modern informationsystems research. The decision support design science research stream studies theapplication of computers in decision support, control, and managerial decision making. Thehuman computer systems design research stream emphasizes the cognitive basis for
IS Research 3effective systems design. The IS organization and strategy research stream focuses the levelof analysis on the focus of value of the IS investment instead of the perception of a systemor its user (Banker 281). The future of information research is constantly evolving. Scholars expect to seenew theories of electronic agency, which will rely on emerging technological capabilities tospecify richer, algorithmically dynamic information endowments and the decision makingprofiles of software agents (Banker 284). As more and more legacy systems, databases,applications, and front-end user interaction mediums are developed the levelsophistication of human computer interaction will increase. A greater number ofinformation systems will not only be used to execute commands, store, process, and shareinformation but they will mimic human-decision making according to sophisticated pre-programmed parameters. This will greatly expand the range of human-computerinteraction studies as researchers will begin analyze how information systems effectivelyexecute desired reactive/proactive tasks based on a sophisticated pre-programmedbehavioral pattern. This can be as simple as programming a computer to play chess or ascomplex as a system that automates strategy formulation and execution vis-à-vis securitiestrading.
IS Research 4 Figure 1. Evolution and State of Information Systems (Grover 278) The 2006 research article titled “A Citation Analysis of the Evolution and State ofInformation Systems within a Constellation of Reference Disciplines” by Varun Groverpublished in the “Journal of the Association for Information Systems” outlines howinformation systems research drew heavily from other traditional disciplines in its earlierstages and vice-versa. It is customary for new fields of research to borrow from other fieldswhile progressively evolving as a distinct mode of inquiry (Grover 274). The studies oforganization science, management science, and computer science have and will continue toshare many topics of interest among each other. Now after 50 years of existenceInformation Systems as a discipline is possibly moving away from the conventionalreference disciplines while building a tradition of its own (Grover 274). Given thepervasive and quasi ubiquitous presence of information systems technology in our society,now many traditional fields are drawing from information systems research to betterresearch and understand modern day phenomena. This dynamism leaves many questions
IS Research 5unanswered. Is the field more fragmented? Is it creating an intellectual engine that is beingdrawn upon by other disciplines as they too recognize the IS component pervading theirfields (Grover 272)? Because of the interdisciplinary nature of IS research scholars haveemerged from varied backgrounds: organization science, computer science, informationscience, engineering, economics, and management science/operations research(Benbasat). Throughout the history of academic research one can find examples ofevolving disciplines which dramatically reshape old contextual boundaries. For example,the field of Economics is a classical exemplar of a totipotential system, where the tendencyto cite intradisciplinary work is extremely high and the tendency to cite interdisciplinarywork is extremely low. Economics serves as a dominant source of theoretical inputs tomany other disciplines in the social sciences. However, information systems can alsoprogress backward in that a system at a totipotential stage might return to thepartipotential stage (Grover 278). Figure 2. Foundational Fields Used in Culnan and Swanson’s (1986) and Cheon et al.’s (1992)
IS Research 6 The 2003 research article titled “The Identity Crisis Within the IS Discipline:Defining and Communicating the Discipline’s Core Properties” by Izak Benbasat publishedin “The MIS Quarterly” examines the schism dynamics within the information systemscommunity in greater detail. Together, founders and members of new organizations createcommunities of practice, molded by forces that heighten the salience of organizationalboundaries. Boundaries become more salient as the contrast between organizationalactivities deepen. Only when bounded entities emerge can selection pressures change theorganizational composition of populations (Benbasat 184). These changes do notnecessarily happen in a clear and neat fashion and can bring about an identity crisis withina community of practice lacking a well defined proprietary center of gravity. The confusiondue to origins stemming from an amalgam of multiple disciplines may influence scholars todevise new constructs to reclassify traditional concepts so as to devise clearer disciplinaryboundaries or to distance one discipline from another. This strategy may not prove to beeffective. There are adverse consequences to both increasing the degrees of separation inmodels being investigated or decreasing the ratio of IT-related constructs to total numberof constructs in a research model (Benbasat 185). Information systems research despite its strong ties to its foundational fields oforganization science, management science, and computer science may indeed continue tooccupy a centralized amorphous existence in relationship to the former disciplines.Information systems is the "glue" that binds the enterprise together, and IS has an impacton every aspect of organizational life. This belief implies that the unique identity ofinformation systems lies in focusing attention exclusively on the immediate nomological
IS Research 7net surrounding the IT artifact. Rather, information systems’ strength as a scholarlycommunity derives partly from its study of the first-order, second-order, and third-ordereffects of IT that span multiple functional areas and business processes (Argawal 390). Information systems research is a relatively new academic discipline which hasincreased in importance over the past 50 years as the rate of information technologyadoption has evolved dramatically. The massive growth of information systems researchhas also contributed to its identity crisis. Information systems research is being drawnupon by other traditional research disciplines such as organization science, managementscience, and computer science as they too recognize the information systems componentpervading their fields.
IS Research 8 BibliographyAgarwal, R., and Lucas Jr., H. C. (2005). Comments on " The information systemsidentity crisis: focusing on high-visibility and high-impact research”. MIS Quarterly,29(3), September, pp. 381-398.Banker R. D., and Kauffman R. J. (2004). The evolution of research on informationsystems: a fiftieth-year survey of the literature in management science. ManagementScience, 50(3), March, pp.281-298.Barki, H., Rivard, S., and Talbot, J. (1993) A keyword classification scheme for isresearch literature: an update. MIS Quarterly, 17(2), June, pp. 209-226.Benbasat I., & Zmud R. W. (2003) The identity crisis within the IS discipline: definingand communicating the discipline’s core properties. MIS Quarterly, 27(2), 183-194.Cheon, M. J., C. Lee, and V. Grover (1992) "Research in MIS - points of work andreference: a replication and extension of the Culnan and Swanson study,"ACM SIGMIS Database (23) 2, pp. 21-29.Grover, V., Ayyagari, R., Gokhale, R., Lim, J., and Coffey, J. (2006) A citation analysis ofthe evolution and state of information systems within a constellation of referencedisciplines. Journal of the AIS, 7(5), May, pp. 270-325.
IS Research 9Whinston, A. B., Geng, X. (2004) Operationalizing the essential role of theinformation technology artifact in information systems research: gray area, pitfalls,and the importance of strategic ambiguity. MIS Quarterly, 28(2), p149-159