Communications of the Association for Information Systems


This paper reports a descriptive case study of the IS academic discipline in Australia. One in a series of nine papers comprising a special issue of Communications of the AIS (CAIS) titled "The Information Systems Academic Discipline in Pacific Asia," this sub-study sought to establish the "beginnings" of a cumulative and ongoing effort to track and report on, and reflect upon the evolution and state of the IS academic discipline in Australia (and Pacific Asia and ultimately other world regions). This paper clarifies the role of the Australian study as a preliminary to the larger Pacific Asia study, and draws upon a series of case studies of Australian states and territories to present the Australian situation. The case study protocol, based in Ridley's [2006] framework on the evolution of disciplines, suggests an inverse relationship between the impact of local contingencies and a discipline's degree of professionalism and maturity. Analysis of Australian data reveals considerable diversity in IS research and teaching across the nation, reflecting the wide geographic spread of universities in Australia. Although in general IS research is not highly contingent upon local exigencies and environmental pressures, the topics researched often reflected personal interests and are only weakly coordinated across research sites. At this time IS in Australia does not possess a unique symbol system that allows unambiguous communication between initiates within the field.