IS project evaluation methodology - Science or art?
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
Nagm, Fouad; Cecez-Kecmanovic, Dubravka; and Kennan, Mary Anne, "IS project evaluation methodology - Science or art?" (2009). ECIS 2009 Proceedings. 333.
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