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Abstract

In an important ISR research commentary, Orlikowski and Iacono [2001] argue that the IS field does not deeply engage in its core subject matter, "the IT artifact." Although agreeing with their analysis and their conclusions concerning the unfortunate lack of engagement with the IT artifact, this article questions their premise that the IT artifact should be viewed as the core of the IS field. After defining the term "work system" and summarizing previously published frameworks for understanding a work system in operation and a work system life cycle, this article presents 18 reasons why IT-reliant work systems should replace "the IT artifact" as the core of the IS field. Taken in combination, the 18 reasons express a belief that today's IS field is inherently work system-centric, rather than IT-centric even though IT artifacts are present wherever the IS discipline is genuinely relevant. The specific reasons involve important topics including IS success, IS costs, IS risks, IS life cycles, methods for analyzing systems, communication with business professionals, organizing and codifying knowledge about systems in organizations, and maximizing the value of IS research.

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