Theory and Information Systems Minitrack

Permanent URI for this collection

The “Theory and Information Systems” minitrack invites submissions that review, integrate, or utilize meta-analytic approaches to building cumulative theory. Submissions which present “local” contextual theory are also welcome. Research over the last decades has emphasized theory development in IS and other social and behavioral sc ience disciplines. The resulting proliferation of theories and constructs may have redundancies, overlaps, and span disciplinary boundaries. Theory reviews, meta-analysis, and interrogation will help produce a cumulative tradition that will benefit the disciplines by producing meta-theory and frameworks to understand the relationships among theories. The goal of this minitrack is to provide social and behavioral sciences research with a better understanding of fundamental IS-relevant theories, help organize our theories to be accessible to practice, and increase our understanding of the philosophical commitments represented in their use.

Topics of interest in this minitrack include but are not limited to:

  • Integration or synthesis of social and behavioral science theories;
  • The theoretical ties and boundary spanning across different disciplines (e.g. healthcare and IS, and sustainability science and IS, energy informatics), and the trends in theories;
  • Approaches to theory meta-analysis (meta-review, meta-theorization, meta-statistical analysis)
  • Research on ontologies, taxonomies, framewor ks, and categorizations of constructs and variables used in information system theories;
  • The use of natural language processing, data mining, and predictive analytics to better understand and interrogate theories;
  • Discussion of the roles of theories used to explain, approaches used to predict (e.g. neural nets and big data), and of theories of understanding;
  • Exploration of the dependencies of constructs and variables;
  • Exploration of the boundaries of theory “domains.”

This minitrack also has an associated ISWorld website devoted to theories used in IS research ( — which won the 2005 AISWorldNet Challenge Award for the best website based on AISWorldNet user voting. We intend to uphold this high standard and advance the website further by increasing the synergy between minitrack outcomes and website content.

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Dirk S. Hovorka (Primary Contact)
University of Sydney, Australia

Kai R. Larsen
University of Colorado


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    When Humans Using the IT Artifact Becomes IT Using the Human Artifact
    ( 2017-01-04) Demetis, Dionysios ; Lee, Allen
    Following Lee & Demetis [20] who showed how systems theorizing can be conducted on the basis of a few systems principles, in this paper, we apply these principles to theorize about the systemic character of technology and investigate the role-reversal in the relationship between humans and technology. By applying systems-theoretical requirements outlined by Lee & Demetis, we examine conditions for the systemic character of technology and, based on our theoretical discussion, we argue that humans can now be considered artifacts shaped and used by the (system of) technology rather than vice versa. We argue that the role-reversal has considerable implications for the field of information systems that has thus far focused only on the use of the IT artifact by humans. We illustrate these ideas with empirical material from a well known case from the financial markets: the collapse (“Flash Crash”) of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
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    Three Roles for Statistical Significance and the Validity Frontier in Theory Testing
    ( 2017-01-04) Lee, Allen ; Mohajeri, Kaveh ; Hubona, Geoffrey
    This study offers a method for empirically testing theories operationalized in the form of multivariate statistical models. An innovation of the method is that it distinguishes testing into three separate forms, “effect testing,” “prediction testing,” and “theory testing,” where statistical significance plays a separate role in each one. In another innovation, the researcher specifies not only his or her desired level of statistical significance, but also his or her desired level of practical significance. Statistical significance and practical significance each serve as a dimension in a two-dimensional table that specifies the rejection region – the region where the researcher can justify the decision to reject the theory being tested. The boundary of the rejection region is the “validity frontier,” which ongoing research may advance so as to reduce the size of the rejection region.
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    Theories in the Light of Contingency and Change: Possible Future Worlds and Well-Grounded Hope as a Supplement to Truth
    ( 2017-01-04) Frank, Ulrich
    Based on a critical account of the dominant concept of theory, the paper presents an alterna-tive, wider notion of theory. It is motivated by the need to cope with a contingent research subject and the assumption that IS should provide an orientation for managing the digital transfor-mation. Unlike neo-positivistic notions of theory, the proposed conception is not restricted to de-scriptions of the factual, but may be aimed at de-signing possible future worlds. Conceiving of possible future worlds requires overcoming the barriers created by language that constitutes our idea of the present world. The paper discusses the resulting methodological challenges and outlines how they might be addressed.
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    The Information Systems Artifact: A Conceptualization Based on General Systems Theory
    ( 2017-01-04) Chatterjee, Sutirtha ; Xiao, Xiao ; Elbanna, Amany ; Saker, Suprateek
    Passionate debates regarding the defining characteristic of the “IT artifact” continue. Such debates, and also the lack of explicit consideration of the “information” element in the IT artifact, motivate us to propose a revised conception, drawing upon concepts from General Systems Theory (GST). Following a number of scholars, we name our reconceptualization as an IS artifact, which aims to provide a contemporary view of an IS that could accommodate the changing nature of both society and technology while at the same time maintain a clear definition of what we mean by an IS. \
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    Modes of Theory Integration
    ( 2017-01-04) Hovorka, Dirk ; Larsen, Kai
    IS, among other social sciences, have moved from a relative paucity of theories about social phenomenon to a a state of multiple, overlapping, and overly narrow theories. We offer three Modes for theory Integration that will enable researchers to better integrate theories and processes into internally coherent models within theories, across theories and between fields. The basis for integration are semantic similarity, nomological congruence and physical/functional/causal overlap. We develop a framework that will justify propositions for theory integration that can subsequently be tested for correspondence to real world phenomenon.
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    Data-Driven, Statistical Learning Method for Inductive Confirmation of Structural Models
    ( 2017-01-04) Maass, Wolfgang ; Shcherbatyi, Iaroslav
    Automatic extraction of structural models interferes with the deductive research method in information systems research. Nonetheless it is tempting to use a statistical learning method for assessing meaningful relations between structural variables given the underlying measurement model. In this paper, we discuss the epistemological background for this method and describe its general structure. Thereafter this method is applied in a mode of inductive confirmation to an existing data set that has been used for evaluating a deductively derived structural model. In this study, a range of machine learning model classes is used for statistical learning and results are compared with the original model.
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    Introduction to Theory and Information Systems Minitrack
    ( 2017-01-04) Hovorka, Dirk ; Larsen, Kai