Phenomenon-based Problematization: Coordinating in the Digital Era

Manos Gkeredakis, Panos Constantinides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identifying and revising outdated theoretical assumptions and metaphors is crucial to build new theory about emerging digitally-enabled coordination phenomena. Based on an extensive review of the extant coordination literature, however, we find that the majority of published manuscripts in top IS and management journals has adopted the well-known and understood (by authors, editors and reviewers alike) strategies of “gap-spotting”, i.e., pointing at gaps in knowledge, and/or “theory-borrowing”, i.e., borrowing unfamiliar theories from a different discipline, to construct and legitimize contributions. Hardly any manuscript has systematically used a problematization strategy, i.e. a theory-building strategy that focuses on explicating and revising underlying theoretical assumptions. To improve the explicit and systematic use of problematization, we do two things. First, we distinguish between phenomenon-driven and theory-driven problematization and hence outline options for how researchers could adopt the former. Second, we explicitly problematize the extant coordination literature. We show that, in contrast to its alternatives, problematization helps coordination researchers identify and address the limits of existing theoretical metaphors, which are dominant in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages14
JournalInformation and Organization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


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