Complex Adaptive Systems Theory in Information Systems Research- A Systematic Literature Review
A special branch of complexity science, complex adaptive systems (CAS), is a way of thinking about systems of interacting agents and how order emerges in systems from the interactions of agents. Though CAS has been widely used in management and organizational studies for decades, it has been employed in the Information Systems (IS) research domain only more recently to investigate complex phenomena like agile software development, bottom-up IT use process, and systems dynamics. The aim of this research is to conduct a review of CAS studies within the IS discipline, particularly focusing on how CAS concepts are used for theorizing complex phenomena and the context of the use. To achieve this, we survey papers published in top outlets between 2002 and 2014, conduct in-depth analysis and categorize the contributions of the papers sampled by mapping them with the relevant CAS concepts. The review suggests that CAS has attracted limited interest within IS due to confusion with its central concepts, inherent complexities and possible ontological and epistemological issues with knowledge accumulation. We identify some promising IS research areas that can be studied using CAS and propose some guidelines for future researchers.