Title

IS project evaluation methodology - Science or art?

Abstract

Pre-investment evaluation of information system project proposals persists in being problematic and

highly risky in practice. Numerous evaluation approaches and methodologies, offered in the literature,

have not contributed to major improvements in practice. As the literature review shows, these

methodologies have assumed an ideal of objective and scientific evaluation and taken the view of

methodology as science. In this paper we aim to revisit the notion of IS evaluation methodology in

practice and specifically explore the methodology as both the ‘science’ and the ‘art’. We achieve these

aims by conducting an Actor Network Theory (ANT) study of IS evaluation in a large financial

services company. The ANT study allowed us to investigate the methodology as it is enacted in IS

project evaluations in practice without making any a priori decision of what methodology is or should

do. By defining a series of processes, inscription aids and mandated checkpoints we found that the

evaluation methodology engenders the evaluation process as ‘science’; and by allowing a degree of

freedom in conducting the evaluation processes, the methodology is also enabling the evaluation

processes to emerge as ‘art’ and by doing so stimulating creativity and innovation. Thus the ANT

approach assisted in our discovery of the dual nature of methodology as simultaneously science and

art.

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