Few would refute the view that information systems have and will continue to make significant impacts on our societies. There is almost no area of human endeavor that has been untouched by information technology-based information systems. In some areas, IS has had a positive effect (finding survivors after natural disasters such as the Tsunami), while in others, the misuse of IS has aided in awe-inspiring destruction (the 9/11 attacks were planned, coordinated, and executed using a wide range of technology infrastructures). The instances of disasters and emergencies are only one example of areas of human endeavor where the role of IS is salient. Other examples of critical areas include modernizing healthcare delivery, improving social development in underdeveloped nations, and improving the quality of life. Given the continuing certainty of disasters, emergencies, and other societal needs, one would expect IS research and researchers to be the most sought-after sources of expertise and knowledge on critical problems of our society. However, this is not always the case. The goal of this panel is to commence a debate on how best to move the IS research agenda forward with a view to making significant impacts in society. For research to make a significant impact on society, it must be not only rigorous and relevant, but also show concern for pressing problems of our society. While the panel members believe in the broader role of IS researchers in society, they disagree on how best to move IS research ahead in order to have significant impact. Do we need to do some in-house cleaning (e.g., do a better job of making IS research attractive to IS practitioners) within the IS research domain before we are ready to target a more-diverse group of stakeholders? Do we need to move to a research model where the emphasis is on cutting-edge industry projects? Or is the answer to be found in considering a broader range of problems (e.g., problems with broader societal impact)? The panel members will also address the pragmatic issues (e.g., research funding, promotion and tenure issues, senior leadership, etc.) involved in encouraging the IS academy to accept and conduct such research.
Desouza, Kevin; El Sawy, Omar; Galliers, Robert; Loebbecke, Claudia; and Watson, Richard, "Information Systems Research That Really Matters: Beyond the IS Rigor Versus Relevance Debate" (2005). ICIS 2005 Proceedings. 77.