The debate between “hard” positivist and “soft” interpretivist research approaches has been the subject of much discussion in the IS field. Typically, the debate is framed in issues central to the philosophy of science, an area where relatively few IS researchers are truly competent. This paper attempts to illuminate the issue, particularly for students and researchers not entirely familiar with the arguments. The opposing positions are caricatured in two anecdotes which illustrate the futility of research conducted at the cul de sac extremes of each approach. The main dichotomies characteristic of each research tradition are then summarized and categorized according to various levels, namely, paradigmatic, ontological, epistemologi- cal, methodological, and axiological. Finally, the paper considers a number of strategies for resolving the debate.
Fitzgerald, Brian and Howcroft, Debra, "Competing Dichotomies in IS Research and Possible Strategies for Resolution" (1998). ICIS 1998 Proceedings. 14.