Rethinking the place of the artefact in IS using Heidegger's analysis of equipment

Kai Riemer, Robert B. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


The IT artefact, conceived as a bundle of features or properties, is frequently seen as the core object of interest in IS. We argue that this view of IT derives from a worldview that stresses a duality between the individual and the external world. Using a stylized account of an IT implementation project, we show how this worldview conditions the phenomena that show up as most central in the IS discipline and the way mainstream theories and research approaches make sense of these phenomena. Retelling the same story through the lens of Heidegger's analysis of equipment in Being and Time (1927/1962), we present an alternative conception of IT as equipment holistically interwoven with other equipment, user practices, and individual identities. This allows rethinking what are central and peripheral concepts and phenomena in the IS discipline, and outline implications of such a shift for IS theorising, research practice and design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-288
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Appropriation
  • Heidegger
  • Holism
  • IT adoption
  • IT artifact
  • Sociomateriality

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