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Abstract

Information systems (IS) is a fertile field for bringing together theory and practice, yet there is often felt to be a bifurcation between the academic and practitioner communities and their world views. This paper explores the separate roles of theory and practice and the interactions and tensions between them, using existing literature, recent empirical evidence from case interviews and the author’s experience, with a focus on the design of information technology projects. It explores reasons why certain considerations experienced by practitioners are under-represented in theory. It generates a classification of such ‘pragmatic considerations’ and relates this to the field of contingency theory. The paper also addresses a concern about how to bridge the gap between theory and practice in general. It reviews existing mechanisms for interaction between the communities of theory and practice, and suggests that academic, practitioner and governmental stakeholders should be continually developing and exploiting such opportunities. In summary, the paper argues that, whilst theory and practice have independent roles and contributions, they are also interdependent, and deserve greater mutual recognition.

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