Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Benbasat and Zmud (2003) express concern that the research community in Information Systems is responsible for the ambiguity of the discipline's central identity by "underinvestigating phenomena intimately associated with IT-based systems and overestimating phenomena distantly associated with IT-based systems"(p.183). Their related argument is that IS needs to focus on the core of the discipline to survive. I seriously contend this point of view. Questioning that we are at a crossroads in the Information Systems (IS) field, I argue that the field should become less disciplinary, and more trans-disciplinary in nature. I build my case by focusing on - and then questioning - underpinnings in their argument. These include: (1) their definitions of IS as a field; (2) the locus of our field in organizations; (3) the assumption that IS is a discipline; and (4) the lack of consideration given to the inter- and trans-national nature of IS as a field of study. Thus, the paper attempts to reposition Information Systems (IS) as quintessentially trans-disciplinary in nature. This case develops by considering how fields of study evolve over time. This evolution can be seen as either natural or as producing crisis. Next, I offer an alternative "core" to Benbasat's and Zmud's "IT artifact." Following this, I present an appropriate locus of study for IS, one that offers a less constricting boundary than that of the organization, including societal and cross-cultural considerations. Finally, I question the very notion of "discipline" as applied to IS, and identify implications for the IS academy.





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