Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


Failures in information systems development have frequently been attributed to the application of insufficient or faulty information systems development methods. Some of these methods are concerned with the creation of conceptual models, which are used for multiple purposes throughout the information systems development process. Criticism of conceptual modelling methods usually targets their lacking of theoretical foundations. In response to such criticism, various approaches towards theoretical foundations of conceptual modelling have been proposed. They can be differentiated by the reference disciplines they are drawing on. Though the relevance of the philosophical discipline ontology for data modelling had already been recognised in the late 1950s, approaches that have been built on ontology are a rather recent phenomenon. It was not before 1986 that Wand and Weber commenced working on an ontological foundation of conceptual modelling—drawing on the scientific ontology by Mario Bunge, thus later named Bunge-Wand- Weber (BWW) ontology. Twenty years after its inception, claims regarding the validity of theoretical foundations of conceptual modelling based on the BWW ontology have not been scrutinised yet. In an attempt to open up a debate, a critical review of the BWW ontology and its application in the context of theoretical foundations of conceptual modelling is being offered.