This paper explores the relationship between what influences and shapes the unique and locally situated method-in-action and how it consequently emerges. Based on a synthesis of prominent Information Systems (Development) literature, an analytical framework is developed. The framework is organised into three perspectives: 1) the structuralist, 2) the individualist and 3) the interactive process perspective. Each perspective supplies a set of key concepts for conceptual understanding and empirical exploration. The analytical framework is used to structure and analyse a two-year longitudinal case study of method emergence in a web-based ISD project. The paper concludes with a summary of the research and its implications. We propose that this research and future theoretical and empirical contributions that address the relationship between the whats and hows of method emergence will support and improve ISD researchers’ and practitioners’ ability to pay attention to and act in accordance with the myriad characteristics, actors and events that shape the method-inaction in practice. Such contributions we argue will build up a vigilance and capacity for problem spotting as well as problem solving.