The term theoretical lens has grown in usage in business and social science research and particularly in the information systems (IS) discipline. In this paper, we question what the term really means by examining it on several dimensions in the context of its actual use. In particular, we consider 1) where the term appears in each paper, 2) how many conceptualizations of theoretical lens each paper uses, 3) the research method the paper uses, 4) the IS domain the paper considers, and 5) which underlying conceptualizations the paper actually uses. To do so, we examine the full set of actual uses in the IS journal that uses the term most frequently, the European Journal of Information Systems. We conclude by discussing several further questions that these observations raise, which suggest deeper issues about better and less advantageous uses of theoretical lenses in IS research and what these issues might imply for the IS discipline.
Niederman, F., & March, S. (2019). The “Theoretical Lens” Concept: We All Know What it Means, but do We All Know the Same Thing?. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 44, pp-pp. https://doi.org/10.17705/1CAIS.04401