Benbasat and Zmud (2003) express concern that the research community in Information Systems is responsible for the ambiguity of the discipline's central identity by "underinvestigating phenomena intimately associated with IT-based systems and overestimating phenomena distantly associated with IT-based systems"(p.183). Their related argument is that IS needs to focus on the core of the discipline to survive. I seriously contend this point of view. Questioning that we are at a crossroads in the Information Systems (IS) field, I argue that the field should become less disciplinary, and more trans-disciplinary in nature. I build my case by focusing on - and then questioning - underpinnings in their argument. These include: (1) their definitions of IS as a field; (2) the locus of our field in organizations; (3) the assumption that IS is a discipline; and (4) the lack of consideration given to the inter- and trans-national nature of IS as a field of study. Thus, the paper attempts to reposition Information Systems (IS) as quintessentially trans-disciplinary in nature. This case develops by considering how fields of study evolve over time. This evolution can be seen as either natural or as producing crisis. Next, I offer an alternative "core" to Benbasat's and Zmud's "IT artifact." Following this, I present an appropriate locus of study for IS, one that offers a less constricting boundary than that of the organization, including societal and cross-cultural considerations. Finally, I question the very notion of "discipline" as applied to IS, and identify implications for the IS academy.
Galliers, Robert D.
"Change as Crisis or Growth? Toward a Trans-disciplinary View of Information Systems as a Field of Study: A Response to Benbasat and Zmud's Call for Returning to the IT Artifact,"
Journal of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 4
, Article 13.
Available at: http://aisel.aisnet.org/jais/vol4/iss1/13