Communications of the Association for Information Systems


We support the call by Nik Hassan for a more nuanced account of the value of Information Systems (IS) research situated in “the intellectual ideals of the academic field, its goals and mission, intellectual structures activities and relationship with its environment” (paper in this issue). In this paper we examine the process by which this notion of ‘knowledge value’ is increasingly being marginalised in the IS discipline by more pragmatic measures of the value of research as a ‘product’ in certain academic ‘markets’. We argue that the increasing centrality that maximising this ‘product value’ assumes in the lives of IS academics helps make sense of the IS ‘discourses of anxiety’ that Nik Hassan documents. Further, the distortion of research practices that widely accepted ideologies of measurement and efficiency bring about, threatens to diminish the holistic knowledge value of research that Nik Hassan articulates. In short, we argue that we are at risk of putting the score ahead of the game. We make our case by showing that the mechanisms by which this value displacement is transpiring in IS, exhibit strong parallels to those that have been shown to underpin disastrous episodes of large-scale efficiency-motivated social reengineering more generally.