Complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory conceptualises a system composed of heterogeneous agents, which interact with each other to adapt to the environment. CAS concepts have been applied in several Information Systems (IS) referent disciplines over the last decade to study complex phenomena in strategic management, social science and organisational research. The application of CAS theory in IS is more recent, wherein researchers have studied complex phenomena including agile processes, systems dynamics and IS alignment. Though CAS has gained some traction with IS researchers, general understanding of the potential of CAS, and its methodological and theoretical applications in IS research, is yet partial and fragmented. The aim of this study is to develop a roadmap for applying CAS in IS research, to analyse the key research objectives with CAS in extant IS research, and to identify methodological and theoretical approaches that researchers follow in conducting CAS-based IS research. To achieve this, we review IS papers published 2002-2014 inclusive in top IS outlets. We analyse the papers based on a supportive theoretical framework and identify eight main objectives of applying CAS, three methodological approaches, and two theoretical approaches related to CAS-based research in the IS discipline. The study reports several valuable observations, including the relative versatility of computational studies over other studies, the minimal use of CAS in design research, methodological triangulation, and theoretical triangulation in IS research. We propose several guidelines for future researchers.
Onix, Mohammad F. A.; Fielt, Erwin; and Gable, Guy G., "Towards a Complex Adaptive Systems Roadmap for Information Systems Research" (2017). PACIS 2017 Proceedings. 106.