The research interests of information systems (IS) researchers often lead to a tension between theory development on the one hand and practical application, such as the implementation of computer applications or business processes, on the other. This tension is, for example, made manifest in the various action research approaches typically used in IS research. This paper presents an approach to IS research that aims to maintain a link between the abstract and the concrete in order to construct ‘tangible theory’. The approach is based on a perspective referred to as socio-instrumental pragmatism and on the concept of grounding knowledge in three different ways: internal grounding, external theoretical grounding, and empirical grounding. Specifically, the suggested approach puts forward the idea of operationalization of abstract knowledge into concrete forms that are more directly applicable in practice.
Agerfalk, Par J., "Grounding Through Operationalization - Constructing Tangible Theory in IS Research" (2004). ECIS 2004 Proceedings. 24.