Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Doing critical research in information systems: A case of theory and practice not informing each other
Authors: McGrath, K
Keywords: critical research methods; information systems; critical social theory; research practice; longitudinal case studies; ethnography
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: Blackwell
Citation: Information Systems Journal. 15 (2) 85-101
Abstract: For more than 30 years, critical research in information systems (IS) has challenged the assumption that technology innovation is inherently desirable and hence to the benefit of all. Nevertheless, how researchers view the nature of being critical has changed over time, and so too have the ways that they pursue their critical agenda and argue for their contributions. In this paper, I present a brief historical account of critical IS research, tracing the theoretical perspectives that have been dominant at different times and the empirical efforts that were guided by them. As part of tracing our current position I examine two key texts authored by Chrisanthi Avgerou and Geoff Walsham, who pursue different types of critical agenda and make distinctive empirically based contributions concerning the substantive issue of global diversity in IS innovation and its consequences. Overall, I suggest that the IS field now accepts broad definitions of the nature of being critical, but despite having a body of empirical critical research from which to learn, we are not making the most of our opportunities to do so, which retards further development. While I do not seek to develop a prescription for conducting and evaluating critical research, or try to encourage lengthy confessional accounts of research conduct in all journal papers, I do argue that we need more explicit reflections about our sustained long-term efforts in the field. Such reflections might consider the way we develop our critical arguments and insights, and what we strive for and accomplish through our interventions. In effect, the IS field has not yet reached a position where the theory and practice of doing critical research are informing each other.
ISSN: 1350-1917
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Research Papers

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Fulltext.pdf154.72 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in BURA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.