Date: 01 Aug 2011

Contingency Theory in Information Systems Research

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Contingency theory, which originated in organizational theory, has been utilized in information systems (IS) research for the past 25 years. This ­theory is based on two central findings: First, there is not one best way to organize or manage a firm. Second, each specific method a firm could choose to organize or manage is not equally effective (Galbraith 1973). IS researchers have utilized the primary contingency theory variables of environment; technology, structure, and management effectiveness in their study of important topics; which include systems planning, systems design, systems implementation, performance, user involvement, and Internet adoption. This chapter describes the main contingency theory constructs which are used in IS research and the seminal work in organizational theory; the primary research methods; and lastly, the limitations of ­contingency theory.