It can be argued that the aim of Information Systems (IS) evaluation research is to produce ever more detailed answers to the question of why and how an IS initiative works for whom and in what circumstances. This paper presents an alternative to traditional IS evaluation research approaches and perspectives. The alternative, realist IS evaluation research, is based on the philosophy of critical realism. Realist IS evaluation research attends to how and why an IS initiative has the potential to cause (desired) changes and seeks to understand for whom and in what circumstances (contexts) an IS initiative works through the study of contextual conditioning. The paper also discusses problems with traditional IS evaluation research approaches and perspectives and how realist IS evaluation research overcomes the problems.
Carlsson, Sven, "A Critical Realist Perspective on IS Evaluation Research" (2005). ECIS 2005 Proceedings. 125.