Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Digital technology (DT) is creating and shaping today’s world. Building on its identity and history of technology research, the Information Systems discipline is at the forefront of understanding the nature of DT and related phenomena. Understanding the nature of DT requires understanding its purposes. Because of the growing number of DTs, these purposes are diversifying, and further examination is needed. To that end, we followed an organizational systematics paradigm and present a taxonomic theory for DT that enables its classification through its diverse purposes. The taxonomic theory comprises a multi-layer taxonomy of DT and purpose-related archetypes, which we inferred from a sample of 92 real-world DTs. In our empirical evaluation, we assessed the reliability, validity, and usefulness of the taxonomy and archetypes. The taxonomic theory exceeds existing technology classifications by being the first that (1) has been rigorously developed, (2) considers the nature of DT, (3) is sufficiently concrete to reflect the diverse purposes of DT, and (4) is sufficiently abstract to be persistent. Our findings add to the descriptive knowledge on DT, advance our understanding of the diverse purposes of DT, and lay the ground for further theorizing. Our work also supports practitioners in managing and designing DTs.





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