Different Paths of Development of Two Information Systems Communities: A Comparative Study Based on Peer Interviews

In: Communications of the Association for Information System, Jg. Vol. 22 (2008) ; Nr. 21, S. 391-412
ISSN: 1529-3181
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Abstract:
Information Systems (IS) is not a homogeneous discipline. Rather,
	it is comprised of various communities that are characterized by
	different perspectives and methods. With regard to the ongoing discussion
	about the profile of the discipline, this is a remarkable phenomenon.
	More specifically, it recommends analyzing the characteristic features
	of the various IS communities and explaining the diverse paths of
	development they took. Furthermore, it implies the question whether—and
	how—the current diversity could be overcome in order to foster a
	more focused competition as well as a more coherent presentation
	of research results on an international scale. This article contributes
	to such an investigation. It is focused on a comparison of the international
	English-speaking community predominantly (in particular in its early
	days) shaped by North-American IS researchers, which plays a leading
	role in the international scene, and the IS discipline in German-speaking
	countries (”Wirtschaftsinformatik” or WI, in Austria, Germany, and
	Switzerland), which constitutes the largest IS community outside
	North America that maintains its own approach. The focus of this
	article is mainly on describing the communities’ characteristics
	as the outcome of a social construction that is chiefly influenced
	by those individuals who participated in this construction. Against
	this background, eight scholars from North America and six scholars
	from German-speaking countries were interviewed at length. All were
	chosen as witnesses of and important contributors to the development
	of their discipline. As a result of this reconstruction, the article
	presents a rich picture of the communities’ history and characteristics
	as experienced and reported by the interviewees. The results obtained
	from this project indicate that neither of the two conceptions (IS
	or WI) can serve as an ideal model. Instead, a more intensive international
	exchange among the various research communities, including the Scandinavian
	and British scholars, should contribute to further develop the field
	into a more mature and satisfactory state.

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