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Abstract

One of the most neglected areas of information systems research is the role of the domain to which researchers apply IS methods, tools, and techniques; that is, the application domain. For example, little prior information systems (IS) or related research has examined how IS and application domain knowledge (ISDK and ADK, respectively) influence how individuals solve conceptual schema problem-solving tasks. In this research, we investigate the effects of both ISDK and ADK on two types of conceptual schema problem-solving tasks: schema based and inferential. We used verbal protocol analysis to explore the roles that ISDK and ADK play in the problem-solving processes participants use when addressing these tasks. We found that, for the two types of conceptual schema problem-solving tasks, ADK and ISDK have similar effects on problem-solving processes. That is, we found that, for schema-based problem-solving tasks, participants used focused (depth-first) processes when the application domain was familiar as did participants with greater IS domain knowledge. We also found that, for inferential problem-solving tasks, participants used exploratory (breadth-first) processes when the application domain was familiar as did participants with greater IS domain knowledge. We then show how cognitive psychology literature on problem solving can help explain the effects of ISDK and ADK and, thus, provide the theoretical foundation for analyzing the roles of each type of knowledge in the process of IS problem solving.

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