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Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

The deep embeddedness of information systems (IS) in many areas of human activity poses a dual challenge to the IS discipline: advancing an expanding disciplinary boundary that includes an increasing set of IS topics; and engaging with other disciplines in order to understand IS-enabled phenomena. An inability to meet these challenges could lead to conceptually stunted development of the IS discipline, missed opportunities to inform other disciplines and a failure to effectively contribute to solving the pressing problems of our time. We undertook this study to investigate both how IS research has addressed these challenges in the past and how it can continue to do so in the future. Drawing on the concept of knowledge-materialization through knowledge-creating practice, and based on approaches for disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge creation, we theorize four different types of knowledge contribution that IS researchers can produce, encompassing both an intradisciplinary and an interdisciplinary view. We then analyze a wide-ranging sample of research studies published in 176 papers in the AIS basket of eight journals to investigate the nature of their contribution vis-à-vis these types. We find that the predominant types of knowledge contribution are intradisciplinary, with relatively few interdisciplinary contributions. Based on our analysis, we explain why each type of knowledge contribution is important to the IS discipline and provide guidance for IS scholars in planning their research strategies for these contributions. We comment on the implications of our study for IS scholars and for the vigor and growth of the IS discipline.

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