Desperately seeking the information in information systems research

S. Petter, M. Carter, A. Randolph, A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Throughout its history, the information systems (IS) discipline has studied a wide range of phenomena. Many IS researchers support the notion that our interest in the IT artifact - defined as "bundles of material and cultural properties packaged in some socially recognizable form such as hardware and/or software" (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001, p. 122) - unites the IS discipline. In "Desperately Seeking the 'IT' in IT Research-A Call to Theorizing the IT Artifact," Orlikowski and Iacono (2001) argued that the IS field is "premised on the centrality of information technology in everyday socio-economic life...[yet] the field has not deeply engaged with its core subject matter-the information technology (IT) artifact" (p. 121). In their review of articles that had been published to date in Information Systems Research, nearly 25 percent did not discuss technology and most had simplistic views of technology: The outcome is that much IS research draws on commonplace and received notions of technology, resulting in conceptualizations of IT artifacts as relatively stable, discrete, independent, and fixed. As a consequence, IT artifacts in IS research tend to be taken for granted or assumed to be unproblematic. (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001, pp. 121-122) Orlikowski and Iacono's (2001) article drew attention to our need to focus on the core of who we are as a discipline. It also created an important turning point. As an unintended consequence of the article, the IS discipline began abandoning its consideration and discussion of information. As a result, IS researchers focused more heavily on technology and the IT artifact, and information became implicit in our research. In this editorial, we expand upon Orlikowski and Iacono (2001) and draw the IS discipline's attention to its abandonment of that other central component in information systems research - information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10–18
Number of pages9
JournalDatabase of Advances in Information Systems
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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