Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Cluster analysis is a powerful statistical procedure for extricating natural configurations among the data and the populations. Cluster analysis, with its seemingly limitless power to produce groupings in any dataset, has all the trappings of a super-technique. However, the method produces clusters even in the absence of any natural structure in the data, and has no statistical basis to reject the null hypothesis that there are no natural groupings in the data. Application of cluster analysis, therefore, presupposes sound researcher judgment and responsible analysis and reporting. This paper summarizes the results of a reflective review of the application of cluster analysis in Information Systems (IS) research published in major IS outlets. Based on the analysis of 55 IS applications of cluster analysis, various deficiencies noticed in its use are discussed along with suggestions for future practice. By analyzing the results over two time periods, longitudinal trends in the application of this technique are highlighted.