The Information Systems Identity Crisis: Focusing on High-Visibility and High-Impact Research

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This paper presents an alternative view of the Information Systems identity crisis described recently by Benbasat and Zmud (2003). We agree with many of their observations, but we are concerned with their prescription for IS research. We critique their discussion of errors of inclusion and exclusion in IS research and highlight the potential misinterpretations that are possible from a literal reading of their comments. Our conclusion is that following Benbasat and Zmud’s nomological net will result in a micro focus for IS research. The results of such a focus are potentially dangerous for the field. They could result in the elimination of IS from many academic programs. We present an alternative set of heuristics that can be used to assess what lies within the domain of IS scholarship. We argue that the IS community has a powerful story to tell about the transformational impact of information technology. We believe that a significant portion of our research should be macro studies of the impact of IT. It is important for academic colleagues, deans, and managers to understand the transformational power of the technology. As IS researchers with deep knowledge of the underlying artifact, we are best positioned to do such research.
Additional Details
Author Ritu Agarwal and Henry C. Lucas, Jr.
Year 2005
Volume 29
Issue 3
Keywords IS identity crisis, transformational impact of IT, macro studies of
Page Numbers 381-398
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