Epistemology of Information Systems: Time for Something New? Positivism, Interpretivism, and Beyond
Most of the major successes in IS field have occurred outside the scope of academic research (and of consulting activities). The central thesis of this paper is that such a “crisis of relevance” of IS research is (also) due to the quaint epistemological status that the discipline inherited from social sciences. Two epistemological approaches, in fact, are being put in practice in IS field research today: positivism and interpretivism. These are glorious and consistent approaches, but they are both rooted in a nineteenth-century, old-fashioned vision of science (the former to carry on its tradition, the latter to criticize and subvert it). Furthermore, positivism and interpretivism, by their own basic assumptions, deny validity to each other’s outcomes, and this results in a sort of “epistemological apartheid” that causes further damages to the discipline.
Is a different epistemological approach possible? A new one, seeking to better receive the extraordinary amount of complex, original contributions that the last century has supplied about the question “how do we know?” The paper attempts to trace some essential lines of a proposal, and gives some very brief, but concrete examples about a new, “eco-humanistic” approach to IS research.
KeywordsPattern Match Social Negotiation Information System Research Major Success Epistemological Approach
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