Operationalizing the Essential Role of the Information Technology Artifact in Information Systems Research: Gray Area, Pitfalls, and the Importance of Strategic Ambiguity

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Abstract

In this paper we argue that a large gray area of information systems research exists, whose relevance to the information technology artifact is subject to significant debate even among IS scholars who support the essential role of the IT artifact. As we explain, not explicitly addressing this gray area can have negative, although often inadvertent, effects on the innovative nature of IS research; we explore this danger through three pitfalls. We then propose a stance of strategic ambiguity to deal with the gray area. Strategic ambiguity calls for deliberately withholding judgment on the relevance of research in the gray area and acceptance of gray-area research provided it meets the excellence required by professional journals. We believe that strategic ambiguity benefits innovative IS research without harming the essential role of the IT artifact.

Additional Details

Author Andrew B. Whinston and Xianjun Geng
Year 2004
Volume 28
Issue 2
Keywords IS discipline, IT artifact, gray area, strategic ambiguity
Page Numbers 149-159