Recent articles such as Avison and Malaurent (2014) and Grover and Lyytinen (2015) question taken-for-granted assumptions about the centrality of theory in research published in leading journals and the near necessity of following repetitive scripts that sometimes are an obstacle to creativity. This paper goes a step further by providing examples and observations that illustrate five seemingly insurmountable challenges related to attaining long-term value from theorizing about information systems.
1) Divergent definitions of basic terms makes it extremely difficult to accumulate IS knowledge.
2) The IS discipline seems to take for granted that knowledge must take the form of theory.
3) Many beliefs and practices related to IT will not hold still for long due to the rapid pace of technological change
4) Most concepts and phenomena that are relevant to IS are not uniquely about IS.
5) Institutional practices at multiple levels encourage use of scripts that are obstacles to creativity and knowledge development.
The conclusion identifies directions for initial progress related to each challenge.
Steven Alter. Five Seemingly Insurmountable Challenges Related to Attaining Long-Term Value from Theorizing about Information Systems. SIG-PHIL workshop at ICIS 2015, International Conference on Information Systems, Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 2015