The Emergence of Interpretivism in IS Research - Article Review Paper Example

2021-07-20 01:02:50
5 pages
1129 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Dissertation abstract
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The article, The Emergence of Interpretivism In IS Research, by Geoff Walshman investigates the rising trend in the use of the interpretivism in research particularly in research concerning information systems. In this paper, the investigation compares the more traditional positivist approaches, which posit that data collected by the researcher is assumed to be objective and thus can be used to prove previous theories as opposed to the interpretive methods of research that seek to establish facts by collecting data from opposing groups to develop conclusions that can be the basis of future theories and hypothesis.

In the analysis of the interpretivism approach, the paper is divided into three sections each examining a different aspect of the research methods. The first part of the paper looks into the introduction of some of the concepts that interpretivism utilizes. The concepts in the introduction primarily hinge on those proposed by Latour that argue, unlike the conventional positivist methods, the process of developing concepts is controversial as it involves the mobilization of a large community of supporters that can overcome particular opposition. In this regard, the article seeks to identify supporters of interpretivism to show that it is a valuable approach to reviewing information systems or at the very least a better method as compared to the positivist approach.

The subsequent part of the article examines the adoption of interpretivism in the current information system research which shows that in the recent past the approach has penetrated the conventional information systems community thus it is progressively being accepted as a viable research methodology. This acceptance is evident from the rising number of researchers in the various fields of information systems that are employing interpretivism research methods as well as support from renowned journal editorial teams. This section also identifies the opponents of the interpretivism approach, however, as the author notes, the opposition of interpretivism is not explicit rather it is inferred from the large body of research literature that still employs positivist research approaches in their studies.

The article concludes by looking at the direction and the future of interpretivism in information systems research. From the various journals analyzed in the article, there is proof of the adoption of interpretivism in that major academic journals are changing policies to support interpretivism research, which has led to the decline in the number of journals with an explicit positivist philosophy. However, although there is a high possibility that interpretivism may gain more ground, it is not certain as there are various challenges that impede its progression.

In the paper, Studying Information Technology in Organization: Research Approaches and Assumptions, an examination of one hundred fifty-five research papers on behavioral information systems is carried out. This examination revealed that the articles made philosophical assumptions on the phenomenon of interest and the nature of the valid evidence to IS researchers despite the fact that these studies were not founded on a predominant theoretical framework, thus revealing that most IS research adopt a positivist research approach.

However, according to the article, the philosophical assumptions made by the majority of information systems research adopted from the positivist approach are not adequate for the study of relationships between organizations or people and information technology. This argument is based on the fact that the use and development of information technologies in businesses are contextual and systematic, characteristics that cannot be adequately satisfied by the philosophical assumptions common in IS studies. Thus, the social process is paramount to IS research as it enables the study continued interactions between people and information systems.

The article thus concludes that the present and main research methodologies employed in the IS research are inadequate in providing quality conclusions as they are not well suited to examine information systems-people interactions over a period of time. However, the authors do not propose abandoning the positivist approach, rather the article proposes that the current research approach should be supplemented with additional research methodologies to make it more suitable for information systems research. In this regard, the article proposes that the positivist approach should be utilized in tandem with critical and interpretive research methods and it is the function of the researcher to make sure that they adopt a perspective that is in line with their research dispositions and interests while also considering other interests and assumptions.

The book, Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices by Anol Bhattacherjee, a professor of information systems, provides information on the process of carrying out scientific research in various disciplines such as social sciences, business, education and much more. According to the author, the book is aimed at graduate and doctoral students that are generally proficient at empirical research but very poor at the thinking process of a researcher as well as theorizing, aspects that are also very critical in the research process. As such, the book encompasses all facets of the research process.

In this regard, the book is divided into four sections, with each section emphasizing a particular phase of the research process. In the first part, the author offers an introduction to scientific research by explaining the science that plays a role in obtaining scientific knowledge through standardized methods referred to as scientific methods. This section also investigates the various types of scientific research such as exploratory, descriptive and explanatory research. It also examines the thought process that every aspiring researcher should adopt, offers a detailed explanation of the research process and analyzes the various theories utilized in scientific research.

The second part of the book concentrates on the basics of empirical research such as the various aspects of an adequate research design, the various types of research designs, the measurement of various constructs involved in the scientific research, the reliability and validity of measuring the constructs and the sampling process. The third part of the book delves into the data collection phase of scientific research. In this section, the author analyzes the survey, experimental, case study and interpretive research approaches thus providing detailed information on the data collection techniques employed in the research process.

The final part of the books focuses on the data analysis phase of the scientific research process. The author presents the two types of data analysis, that is, quantitative and qualitative analysis and further discusses qualitative analysis in terms of inferential and descriptive statistics. The final part, as well as the book, concludes with the examination of research ethics and the ethical principles that all scientific research should put into consideration and their importance in the research process.


Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Orlikowski, W. J., & Baroudi, J. J. (1990). Studying information technology in organizations: Research approaches and assumptions. New York University, New York.

Walsham, G. (1995). The emergence of interpretivism in IS research. Information systems research, 6(4), 376-394.


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