Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Enterprise systems typically include constructs such as ledgers and journals with debit and credit entries as central pillars of the systems’ architecture due in part to accountants and auditors who demand those constructs. At best, structuring systems with such constructs as base objects results in the storing the same data at multiple levels of aggregation, which creates inefficiencies in the database. At worst, basing systems on such constructs destroys details that are unnecessary for accounting but that may facilitate decision making by other enterprise functional areas. McCarthy (1982) proposed the resources-events-agents (REA) framework as an alternative structure for a shared data environment more than thirty years ago, and scholars have further developed it such that it is now a robust design theory. Despite this legacy, the broad IS community has not widely researched REA. In this paper, we discuss REA’s genesis and primary constructs, provide a history of REA research, discuss REA’s impact on practice, and speculate as to what the future may hold for REA-based enterprise systems. We invite IS researchers to consider integrating REA constructs with other theories and various emerging technologies to help advance the future of information systems and business research.