Towards a Pluralistic Conception of Research Methods in Information

Essen: Institut für Informatik und Wirtschaftsinformatik (ICB), Universität Duisburg-Essen (2006) (ICB research report ; 7), 69 S.
Buch / Monographie / Fach: Wirtschaftswissenschaften
There has been an ongoing debate about the use of research methods in Information Systems Research
(ISR). Despite the international dominance of the behaviourist approach, there is a remarkable
number of researchers who propagate alternative methods, such as hermeneutic approaches
or the so-called ‘Design-Science’ approach. This report is based on the assumption that the variety
of research topics and objectives of ISR cannot be covered in a satisfactory way by one method.
Instead, it is claimed that there is need for the configuration of methods according to individual
research designs. For this purpose, the report is focussing on the peculiarities of ISR in order to develop
the requirements a research method should serve. Subsequently, existing methods, such as the
behaviourist, the hermeneutic or the ‘Design Science’ approach are evaluated with respect to these
requirements. To develop a common conception of science that fits all disciplines and can be
adapted to serve the peculiarities of ISR at the same time, the report gives an overview of selected
approaches in philosophy of science. Against this background, a conceptual framework is developed
that guides the configuration of individual research methods. It includes the core concepts that
constitute the parameters of configuration and supplemental criteria to support configuration decisions.
Finally, the framework is adapted to serve as a conceptual foundation for the unified documentation
of research results. It fosters comparability of research contributions across the spectrum of
possible research methods and contributes to the reconstruction of scientific progress.