The paper presents a framework to interpret information systems development (ISD) as composed of activities for the creation and exchange of knowledge. The framework is based on the five inquiring systems presented by Churchman (1971). The main contribution of the framework is in showing that in ISD the inquiring systems should be used complementarily: rationalism, empiricism, idealism, dialectic, and pragmatism are to be used by participants in ISD projects in accordance to the development phase they face. Since the framework focuses on the knowledge created during the interaction of individuals and groups (or the lack thereof) rather than on the specific development process, the framework is robust enough to be adaptable to different ISD methodologies. In the second part, the paper presents an ethnographic study of an ISD project. Through the analysis of the case material, it is evident that the participants display behavior very similar to the pure rational inquirer far from the plurality of approaches that the framework shows as necessary. This conclusion indicates that improvement in ISD has to be sought not only in methodological amelioration but in a combination of methodologies that support multiple inquiring systems and a change in the mindset of the actors involved through adequate practices.
Carugati, Andrea, "Information Systems Development as Inquiring Systems: Lessons from Philosophy, Theory, and Practice" (2005). ICIS 2005 Proceedings. 25.