Management Information Systems Quarterly


The Information Systems research community has a complex relationship with theory and theorizing. As a community of scholars, our assumptions about theory and theorizing affect every aspect of our intellectual lives. Ideas about what theory is, who theorizes, where theory comes from, when we theorize, how theory is developed and changes, and why theory is (or isn’t) important shapes the projects we do, the partnerships we have, the resources available to us, and phenomena that we find to be significant, interesting, and novel.

Despite its prominent place in our thinking, it is often difficult to critically examine the assumptions we make about theory and theorizing. Our assumptions affect our priorities, decision, and actions. How we think about theory and its role in our individual and collective intellectual lives is a product of complex paths and multiple influences. Although we may try to stay mindful of how our assumptions shape our perspectives and ways of thinking, from time to time we need to look beyond them. The short papers presented here highlight and challenge some core assumptions. Each provocatively engages with one or more assumptions about theory, theorizing, and/or their implications for IS research. In doing so, these authors engage and contribute to the long tradition of reflecting on theory and theorizing. They challenge us to return to these dialogues anew as the worlds we study and the ones we inhabit change. Readers will also find healthy differences in opinion across the provocations. We expect the diversity in these provocations will inspire thought and reflection as much as the strong views within each one