Reclaiming meaning in IS theory: Theory for why, not what

Dirk S. Hovorka, Robert Johnston, Kai Riemer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents an alternative perspective on theory in Information Systems (IS). We argue that the orthodox view of theory as modelistic representation does not fulfil the criteria for ideal theory when applied to IS viewed as a social sciences. By looking to what theory does rather than what theory is, we open the possibility for an alternative kind of theory that makes the human world comprehensible by grasping the sociality of human affairs. By laying bare the underlying commitments of the orthodox notion, we reveal what the alternative must provide to theorize how the social world becomes meaningful to actors in the course of everyday practices. We develop an account of this alternative kind of theory and provide an exemplar on trust formation to demonstrate how a narrative form can be considered as theory. We conclude by indicating its value for theorizing IS in new ways, particularly in the current world of pervasive technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Information Systems Foundations Workshop (ISF 2014 workshop)
    Subtitle of host publication2nd-3rd October, 2014, Canberra, Australia
    EditorsShirley Gregor, Susanna Ho
    PublisherANU E Press
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventInformation Systems Foundations Workshop 2014 - Canberra, Australia
    Duration: 2 Oct 20143 Oct 2014
    Conference number: 7th


    ConferenceInformation Systems Foundations Workshop 2014
    Abbreviated titleWISF 2014

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