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Abstract

The recent debate about crisis in the Information Systems (IS) discipline is largely attributed to its having a fluid discipline identity. Myriad conceptualizations of IS discipline identity have resulted in a plethora of unstructured and disconnected recommendations for the survival and growth of the IS field. It is therefore essential to have a theoretical framework which explains: What is IS discipline identity? In this study, we address this void in the identity literature. By extending and borrowing from the concepts of organizational and self-identity, we propose a theoretical framework for discipline identity and explicate its dimensions with respect to the IS discipline. The three contextual questions of discipline identity about purpose, period, and place set the stage for an in-depth inquiry of the three constitutive questions (or dimensions): periphery, perspective, and process, to provide a holistic framework for conceptualizing IS discipline identity. Further, we conceptualize IS discipline identity process as consisting of four recursive and iterative sub-processes: copy, consolidate, differentiate, and demonstrate (CCDD). We posit that an iterative hermeneutic focus on these four sub-processes is vital for the health of the discipline and neglecting even one of them will lead to an imbalanced identity structure. Through this paper, we seek to stimulate and further the ongoing debate on the topic.

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