The end of IS research: a pragmatic redefinition of the 'So What' question in IS research

The end of IS research: a pragmatic redefinition of the 'So What' question in IS research
Document type
Working Paper
Author(s)
Constantinides, Panos; Chiasson, Mike
Publisher
AIM Research
Date of publication
1 June 2010
Series
AIM Research Working Papers
Subject(s)
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Collection
Business and management
Material type
Reports

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This essay contributes to the debate about the relevance of information systems (IS) research and seeks to address increasing concerns about the state of the IS field. It does so by redefining the 'so what' question in IS research as a question about the assumed and desirable ends of such research. While drawing on ideas from pragmatism, the authors argue that these ends include not only the logical directions of the research (i.e. methodological and theoretical assumptions), but also the ethical (i.e. how and for whom should we act) and aesthetic ends of the research (i.e. according to which criteria of relevance). Moreover, they argue that these ends need to be continuously revisited and fundamentally critiqued to consider the various power relations which foster, shape, and restrict these ends. These points are illustrated by exploring how researchers employing two particular methodologies in IS research – experiments and action research – take largely for granted important ethical and aesthetic questions in their research, by focusing primarily on logical ends. The essay concludes with some implications of our pragmatic approach for informing and evaluating future IS research practice and education.

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