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Business & Information Systems Engineering

, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 307–315 | Cite as

On Dinosaurs, Measurement Ideologists, Separatists, and Happy Souls

Proposing and Justifying a Way to Make the Global IS/BISE Community Happy
  • Hans Ulrich Buhl
  • Gilbert Fridgen
  • Günter Müller
  • Maximilian Röglinger
Editorial

1 Introduction

If one is interested in the past, present, and future of the global community of all scholars who deal with information systems, the North American Information Systems (NAIS) community and the Business and Information Systems Engineering (BISE) community from the German-speaking countries are reliable proxies. This is because they prototypically epitomize characteristics that are shared by almost all communities worldwide (Buhl et al. 2012; Frank et al. 2008). Both communities have developed rather independently in the last decades and, as will be seen below, feature complementary strengths and weaknesses today. Moreover, both communities face complementary challenges that partly result from their individual weaknesses and partly from changes in their ecosystems. With many members of either community being unhappy with the status quo, adaptation is inevitable!

To put one thing straight at the very beginning: The question is, in which future both communities desire to live, and how they should act correspondingly. Both communities might pursue a dinosaur strategy with 99 % frustrated losers and 1 % neurotic winners, and run the risk that, except for very few talents, they cease to exist.

We are convinced that the global IS/BISE community should strive for a future where it makes strong contributions to theory and industry, where the vast majority of its members characterize themselves as happy souls, and where it is not just driven by changes in its ecosystem, but also in a position to drive changes. To turn this future into reality, the BISE and the NAIS communities first have to adapt to current changes and become successful players in their ecosystems – of course, without selling their souls and throwing proprietary strengths overboard. The reason is that only successful players are taken serious and given the opportunity to drive changes from within, i.e., to establish criteria of success according to own ideals. Trying to avoid adaptation by convincing the members of an ecosystem of one’s value is a hopeless endeavor if one does not meet the criteria of success that govern the ecosystem. There is a reason why missionaries end up in the cooking pot! For the same reason, any complaining-about-an-unfair-world or head-in-the-sand strategy is condemned to fail, too.

What does that mean for the BISE and the NAIS communities? We feel that neither community is able to adapt fast enough to become a successful player in its ecosystem on its own. This holds true even more in a world where the border between the ecosystems of both communities has begun to vanish long time ago. Strategies of ignoring, defaming, or missionizing one another therefore will not work. The only promising option is complementarity, i.e., the BISE and the NAIS communities intensify their collaboration and leverage their complementary strengths.

In this editorial, we first elaborate on why and how the BISE and the NAIS communities can complement one another. Due to our personal involvement, we then take on the perspective of the BISE community. We use the history of the community’s central publication, the journal Business & Information Systems Engineering (BISE)/WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, to demonstrate how the strategy of first successfully adapting to current changes in an ecosystem and then driving changes from within has helped maintain and extend strong industry connection for more than 50 years. After that, we discuss how the BISE community should deal with current trends and why it will benefit from complementarity. Getting back to the perspective of the global IS/BISE community, we conclude with a call for participation and further action.

2 The Need and Opportunity to Complement One Another

Although it may seem contradictory, the foremost task of one advocating complementarity is segmentation. This seems all the more contradictory if one considers that, in general, segmentation is unable to capture a complex spectrum of shades of gray – particularly if phenomena such as scientific communities are concerned. The reason, however, is simple: Without segmentation, differences remain opaque and rationales for complementarity cannot be justified.

In our perception, the NAIS community is committed to research excellence and strong contributions to theory in line with the natural sciences paradigm. NAIS researchers aspire to profound theoretical knowledge and an excellent command of research methods. They also are inducted into a strong publishing and reviewing culture (Lyytinen et al. 2007). Non-surprisingly, the NAIS community hosts numerous journals that take top positions on journal rankings and are reckoned standard setters with respect to methodological rigor and scholarly writing. Partly because of and partly despite its orientation toward research excellence, the NAIS community struggles with industry connection, identity, and legitimation (Gill and Bhattacherjee 2009; Hirschheim and Klein 2003; Klein and Rowe 2008; King et al. 2010; Myers and Baskerville 2009; Somers 2010; Taylor et al. 2010). NAIS researchers perceive a “disconnect between the worlds of business and academia” (Hirschheim and Klein 2003, p. 250) and admit to have a “hard time getting access to companies” (Frank et al. 2008, p. 407). This is why, over the last 20 years, their chairs went down from “90 % industry funding to 95 % government funding” (Nunamaker interviewed by Winter 2010, p. 323). We also know of NAIS scholars who are unhappy that research methods related to the natural science paradigm still are the “gold standard” for most top-ranked journals and that journal publication is the primary consideration in the tenure decision as well as the only source to draw legitimation in the eye of colleagues from other schools (Dennis et al. 2006; Frank et al. 2008). Finally, enrollments of NAIS degree programs have been falling, courses have been deleted from other degree programs at many universities, and funding from schools has been cut (Firth et al. 2008; Hirschheim and Newman 2010; Navarro 2008; Sabherwal 2010). This is why NAIS scholars discussed long time whether they are “like the dinosaurs…heading blindly toward extinction” (Culnan and Huff 1986, p. 352).

The BISE community is characterized best by the ability to fully engage with industry. An essential component of the community’s self-conception is the objective of creating utility for industry (Frank et al. 2008; Mertens 2011; Wissenschaftliche Kommission Wirtschaftsinformatik 2011). BISE researchers participate in solving business problems in line with the engineering tradition of the German-speaking countries and the sciences of the artificial paradigm, which goes back to H.A. Simon. Frank et al. (2008) report on an anonymous BISE peer who estimated that about 90 % of the BISE researchers maintain close cooperation with industry. Consequently, BISE researchers – about 65 % of the interviewees from German-speaking countries as reported by Avgerou et al. (1999) – draw substantial funding from industry (Gill and Bhattacherjee 2009). Approximately 44 % of the research assistant positions examined by Frank et al. (2008) are funded by industry. Consequently, BISE chairs are comparatively large (Schauer 2007). Sometimes, chairs are expanded to “scientific think tanks” of more than 20–30 research assistants who do both fundamental and applied research. With all levels of academic education being linked with industry, the BISE community offers attractive degree and doctoral programs. In Germany, for instance, annual BISE enrollments doubled from 2000 to 2010 (Federal Statistical Office 2011). A circumstance that earns BISE researchers well-respected positions in many schools. The BISE community’s model with a high focus on boundary spanning between academia and industry was crisis-proof in the last fifty years. It also left considerable degrees of freedom to individual researchers as legitimation could be drawn from various sources. This is why BISE researchers have recently earned a reputation as “happy souls” (Junglas et al. 2011, p. 2). Due to its intense interaction with industry, however, the BISE community is often criticized to border perilously on consulting, to trail technological fads, to have a sloppy reviewing and article quality culture, and to lack a long-term research agenda. It also features a substandard output of publications in international top-ranked journals (Lyytinen et al. 2007). As a current trend, universities and funding organizations, which have long allowed for different qualification portfolios, nowadays imitate the NAIS community by imposing incentives as well as assessment and tenure criteria that are increasingly based on publications in top-ranked journals. Therefore, many BISE researchers fear for the community’s strong industry connection. Even scholars from the NAIS community admit that “if European researchers are tempted to move away from their practice-informing activities in a quest for IS-research publications, that does not bode well for the European model” (Gill and Bhattacherjee 2009, p. 224).

As can be seen, the BISE and the NAIS communities have complementary strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. Thus, they have the opportunity to complement one another. Complementing one another requires either community to learn from the other community’s strengths. The NAIS community can learn from how the BISE community interacts with industry, resulting in more practical relevance, higher attractiveness for academic offspring, and more stable enrollments. The BISE community can learn from the NAIS community’s commitment toward research excellence, yielding stronger contributions to theory, higher research quality, and more publications in top-ranked journals. Complementing one another does not mean to abandon traditional strengths or to become identical. Nevertheless, it requires to intensify the exchange between both communities and to respect the other community for its strengths. Only if both communities leverage their complementary strengths, they will be able to mitigate own weaknesses, tackle own challenges, and become successful players that have the ability to drive change within their ecosystems.

3 How the BISE Community Successfully Adapted to Prior Changes in Its Ecosystem

During its evolution, the BISE community successfully adapted to changes in its economic and scientific ecosystem. Without these adaptations, the BISE community would not have been able to continuously strengthen its position in the German-speaking countries and to develop the strengths it features today, particularly its connection with industry. To illustrate the adaptations of the BISE community, we draw on the four-staged history of the journal BISE/WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK. As a matter of fact, the journal’s recent strategic realignment in 2009, as a part of which the English-language e-journal Business & Information Systems Engineering was founded, results from an eventful sequence of changes in the BISE community’s ecosystem and corresponding adaptations.

3.1 1959 to 1970: elektronische datenverarbeitung (Electronic Data Processing)

Driven by the “deutsches Wirtschaftswunder” (German economic miracle) and the increasing opportunity for industry to adopt electronic computers, the BISE journal’s progenitor elektronische datenverarbeitung (Electronic Data Processing) was founded by Hans Konrad Schuff in 1959. As most companies had no idea of how to employ programmable machinery to really support business objectives, the journal intended to provide the emerging community with up-to-date reports about new computers on the market and some guidance on how to use them. Therefore, the journal’s editorial board included editors from academia and industry.

Whereas most parts of the community thought in terms of hardware and programming, some visionaries anticipated the need for an interdisciplinary approach and a management perspective (Diebold, 1959, reprinted 2009; Kettner, 1959, reprinted 2009). In the 1960s, more and more companies recognized that employing computers is necessary to stay competitive, but only makes sense if the early visions are adopted and if academically founded principles for solving application-oriented problems are used. As neither business administration departments nor the predecessors of computer science were able to meet the growing demand for “academically trained […] information specialists” (Grochla, 1969, reprinted 2009, p. 89), the time was ripe for the BISE community (Lange 2006).

In 1967, the German economy experienced a so far unknown slowdown with even a negative growth rate despite an export surplus that doubled compared to 1966. Yearly growth rates had fallen from 12 % to 6 % in the 1950s and from 9 % to 3 % until 1966. In 1968, the journal’s founding editor died prematurely and was succeeded by two editors with strong university and industry relations. In 1969, the German Government opened up the economic relations to the Eastern European states. As a result, in the next twenty years exports and surpluses soared by a factor of 6.5 and 7.5, respectively – despite two oil crises and subsequent world recessions. Vienna became the center of exchange with the Eastern European countries. The main challenges for companies in Central Europe was to adapt their processes and IT to support a much closer economic integration within the European Union and the Eastern European states on the one hand, and to intensify the relations with North America on the other hand. In these decades, trade relations with Asia were almost negligible.

3.2 1971 to 1989: Angewandte Informatik (Applied Computer Science)

During the 1970s and 1980s, the software industry developed extraordinarily well in the German-speaking countries. Research and development focused on the “design of […] effective and efficient application systems” as well as on the handling of heterogeneous and – for that time – large amounts of data (Szyperski et al. 2009, p. 8). More and more companies emerged whose business models focused on the application of IT in business and public administration. Software AG was founded in 1969, SAP in 1972. The demand for BISE experts and conceptual support by BISE researchers rose even further.

In order to provide an adequate platform for publications that reflect the changes in the BISE community’s ecosystem, the journal opened itself to new topics concerning the “economical, technical, and social impact” of computing machinery (Hasenkamp and Stahlknecht 2009, p. 18). As a consequence, it was renamed Angewandte Informatik (Applied Computer Science). Analogously, the early BISE community switched from hardware and programming focus to a more integrated approach including software support and the software industry. The community also became scientific and put stronger emphasis on generalizable and transferable knowledge. In line with August Wilhelm Scheer’s “Business and information systems engineering links science with entrepreneurship” (2009, p. 75), some BISE researchers founded successful “academic consultancies” or supported former research assistants in the foundation of spin-offs to foster knowledge transfer and to help solving business problems.

3.3 1990 to 2008: WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK

With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the growing importance of the European Union, the 1990s brought a lot of change. As a consequence of its reunification, Germany put much emphasis on investing in the decimated East German economy and on pursuing economic integration. As a result, Germany’s exports stagnated and surpluses vanished. From 1993 to 2007, however, exports tripled and surpluses increased by a factor of six – despite the “new economy” crisis in the beginning of the new millenium. This success story was only possible by using IT as an enabler of global trade relations, mainly within Europe and with North and South America. Despite their relatively strong growth, trade relations with Asia were minor until the new millennium began. The advances in IT also facilitated exchange beyond local borders in the academic world. The strongly growing BISE community, which had mainly interacted with local industry, became increasingly acquainted with the culture of the NAIS community that did not focus on creating utility for industry, but on methodological rigor, theoretical foundations, and publishing. During the 2000s, universities and funding organizations had begun to adopt the criteria and incentives from the NAIS community, which, in line with the NAIS community’s culture, almost exclusively referred publications in international top-ranked journals. In some cases, university members even discredited collaboration with industry and explicitly discouraged researchers from seeking respective funding.

In order to adapt to the changes in the scientific ecosystem, the journal – which in the meantime was published under the name of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK – introduced double-blind reviewing and raised its rigor criteria. The objective was to provide BISE scholars with an outlet that is relevant for tenure decisions and accepts BISE style research results. As a consequence, the rejection rate reached a level comparable to that of NAIS top-tier journals. To ensure continued exchange with industry, the journal launched sections that were particularly geared to the needs of practitioners (e.g., profiles, literature reviews, surveys, web reviews, and reports on innovative products) (Mertens in Szyperski et al. 2009). To keep an eye on the practical relevance of research papers, review panels still had to include reviewers from industry. The journal benefited from the actions it took. At its peak, it had about 4,000 subscribers, including about 2,000 from industry. Some publications were even authored by practitioners (e.g., Kagermann, 1993, reprinted 2009). It became one of the very few journals originating from German-speaking countries that received an impact factor by Thomson Reuters. It also became the highest ranked German-language journal in the official ranking JOURQUAL of the German Academic Association of Business Research (VHB) where more than 1,600 international journals are evaluated.

As far as the BISE community is concerned, the changes in the scientific ecosystem brought opportunities and threats. On the one hand, ever more BISE researchers recognized the value of an exchange with NAIS scholars and went international. Since then, almost no young academic lacks international experience: They publish in and serve on editorial boards of journals that originate from the NAIS community, attend and help organize international conferences, or take research stays abroad. On the other hand, many BISE researchers had a problem with fulfilling the raising publication criteria as, for a long time, they had no external pressure to publish in journals with rigor requirements and industry collaboration was an accepted source of legitimation at numerous schools. Some other reasons are given in Buhl et al. (2012). Basically, BISE researchers reacted in two ways on the changes in the scientific ecosystem: Some – particularly tenured ones among them – decided to concentrate on journals, conferences, and workshops that put strong emphasis on knowledge transfer with industry. Other researchers – numerous young and untenured ones among them – adopted research methods related to the natural science paradigm predominating in the NAIS community and submitted their papers to respective journals. To some extent, this shows parallels to the era where NAIS researchers adopted behavioral research to increase their “legitimation in the eyes of business school colleagues” (anonymous NAIS peer interviewed by Frank et al. 2008, p. 404).

3.4 Since 2009: The BISE Journal’s Strategic Realignment

Starting in 2007, the (IT-enabled) global financial crisis hit the Central-European banks mainly in 2008 as well as the export-oriented industry in 2009. The corresponding economic downturn was the worst ever since the Great Depression in 1929/1931. In Germany, for example, overall exports dropped by more than 18 %, in many companies and industries even by 50 % and more. Surprisingly, in 2010 German exports recovered, employment rose to the best values in two decades, and the economy grew by 3.6 %. Considering that companies had invested strongly in trade relations and economic integration with Asia – particularly China –, this was less surprising as exports to the growing Asian economies were the main reason for this success. For instance, more than 20 % of the cars produced in 2010 by the German automotive industry were sold in China.

As a consequence of the increased rigor criteria and the afore-mentioned author drain, the WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK journal received less and less submissions. At the same time, the higher scientific standards made papers cumbersome to read for practitioners so that even the subscriber base began to dwindle. Vigorous and often black-or-white discussions about an impending schism regarding “BISE vs. NAIS” and “rigor vs. relevance” were the result. Stuck in the middle, what were the journal’s options? A single journal geared to academia and practitioners was obviously not promising any more. Moreover, with the increasing international orientation of young researchers, continuing a purely German-language journal would also have been a dinosaur strategy, blindly heading toward extinction: Submissions would sooner or later have reduced to nil. It became obvious that the journal lost its position to drive changes from within the current economic and scientific ecosystem.

Therefore, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK implemented a strategic realignment and is henceforth complemented by the English-language and one-to-one translated e-journal Business & Information Systems Engineering (BISE). The editorial board was extended to include, among others, some of the experts from the NAIS community who are boundary spanners between both communities. Departments were established and staffed with editor teams from both communities. To maintain best practices, the journal still involves editors from industry. The transfer-oriented journal Wirtschaftsinformatik & Management (WUM) was launched to specifically ensure knowledge exchange with industry.

4 What lies ahead? 2012 and beyond…

4.1 Status Quo and Current Trends

All future adaptations of the BISE community and the BISE journal have to consider the current changes in the ecosystem. From an economic perspective, now in 2012, the situation in the German-speaking countries looks better than expected, despite a number of threats from Southern European Countries and the US as well as slowdowns even in Asia. For the first time in 5 years, due to soaring tax revenues public deficits have turned into a surplus in Germany and its export surplus exceeded that of China again. For the first time in 14 years, Germany achieved an export surplus even in the bilateral trade with China.

The elaborations so far demonstrated that, for more than 50 years, the BISE community and the BISE journal successfully adapted to changes in its ecosystem. The community also started to learn from exchange with colleagues from the NAIS community. Today, the BISE community holds a strong position both in its economic and scientific ecosystem. However, the community’s strong industry connections are at risk and its output in terms of publications in top-ranked journals needs to be improved. The BISE journal not only provides internationally oriented scholars from the German-speaking countries with a visible and acknowledged platform, but also addresses international scholars who strive to publish relevant and rigorous research results – especially those that are in line with the sciences of the artificial paradigm. The journal’s strategic realignment was a powerful and necessary instrument that leveraged the journal’s strong position in the German-speaking countries to enter the international market of renowned journals and to maintain the community’s strength in a changed ecosystem. Due to its complementary focus on rigor and relevance, it has found much interest and considerable support from the global community. Although it was implemented not so very long ago, the strategic realignment is bearing fruit: The downtrend in terms of the amount of both submissions and print subscribers was stopped and a turnaround was accomplished. The BISE journal was announced as an AIS Affiliated Journal in 2010. Its 2011 downloads went up by about 300 percent compared to 2009. In line with the economic articles importance of Asia for the Central-European industry as a whole, downloads of BISE articles from that region were comparable to those from Europe (most important were China and India). In 2010, WUM was furthermore awarded best newcomer by “German Business Media”, which represents the interests of 420 affiliated publishers with 3,800 titles. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of excellent submissions from all over the world. There is still a geo bias in submissions and particularly in accepted papers. During the next years, the journal will have to adapt again for two reasons: First, and more important, to remain an attractive outlet for BISE research, further improving its rigor while maintaining its relevance. Second, the BISE journal is not yet on the level of an international top journal in terms of rankings, citations, and impact factors.

As for the scientific world, formal measurement of scientific quality and research performance both on the aggregate levels, e.g., journals, universities, or schools, and on the level of individual scholars continues to gain more and more importance worldwide. This development has had more influence in the NAIS community due to the importance in business schools, e.g., for tenure decisions, than in the BISE community. The so far rather low impact on the BISE community is rooted in the fact that, in contrast to natural sciences and business schools, formal measurement is by far not that important in engineering and computer science schools. While the transparency brought along with formal measurement certainly has its merits, business and engineering schools are discussing intensely the downsides of such a measurement ideology. We elaborate on some downsides below: First, the peer review processes of top journals or top conferences favor followers rather than innovative new entrants. This can especially be harmful regarding the orientation of young researchers: The vast majority of doctoral students in the BISE community intentionally seek management careers after finishing their doctorates. Consequently, for a long time doctoral work emphasized creative, analytical, and project management skills, while training in research methods and writing skills has been secondary. Moreover, BISE researchers traditionally strive for “giant leaps” to boldly answer relevant research questions no man has asked before. In contrast, typical NAIS journals value “incremental articles [that] focus on a single question based on an assumption ground that has been established elsewhere” (Lyytinen et al. 2007, p. 320). The training required for this paradigm shift takes time that is being cut from the education in project management skills and the establishment of industry networks. Consequently, the title “doctor in BISE” may lose its hard gained reputation in industry and become less attractive for young academics. Even worse for the community, future researchers will lack the abilities and awareness to train their successors to be boundary spanners between research and business. Just as it happened in parts of the NAIS community, the BISE community might slide into a “downward spiral because of [its] increasing narrow-mindedness” (Nunamaker interviewed by Winter 2010, p. 322). Second, no measurement criterion is robust with respect to opportunism and manipulation. As discussed, it may be harmful for a researcher to pursue groundbreaking interesting research and more productive to produce a vast number of papers with only incremental benefit. As a rising number of retraction decisions of top journals show, several papers are not incremental, but redundant or wrong and solely written for publication and citation. It is interesting to mention the role of the popular media in this respect: When individual rankings are published, a lot can be written on the few winners. If it turns out later that they have cheated this of course is also a good selling story. This way, science becomes doping in sports, populism in politics, or show business. Not long-term results matter, but short-term effects do. Even more dangerous, however, are the community effects of such opportunistic behavior of individual researchers. If redundant or even wrong research including self-plagiarism with papers solely written for publication and citation grows and researchers skip risky groundbreaking research and contact with industry, the communit’s scientific reputation (indicated by retraction of papers) and its reputation in industry and society are at risk (indicated by shrinking interest of students and industry following decreasing relevance of research). Third, a strong focus solely on publications endangers degrees of freedom and sources of legitimation. If publications in top-ranked journals keep becoming the predominant criterion for grants, those grants will be given to very few specialized “mile deep/inch wide lonesome cowboys”. Ironically, lonesome cowboys love their lonesomeness and apply for grants rather for the kudos than for the money. This money will be missing as the foundation for big teams necessary for industry-scale applied research projects. An ecosystem like that may drive many ambitious researchers into competition in an area they are neither trained nor interested in. Is this the reason why we became scholars? Probably not.

4.2 Why Care about Rankings, Citations, and Impact Factors?

So why does the BISE journal have to be concerned about rankings, citations, and impact factors? The answer is simple: They are demanded by the current ecosystem! Remember: To drive changes, you first have to adapt to the ecosystem and become a successful player according to its criteria of success. It makes no sense to bury one’s head in the sand and lament about the unpleasant situation. For example, JOURQUAL is mandatory for promotion and tenure at many universities in Germany. Opting out would probably lower the number of submissions to an existence-threatening level – like it or not. Moreover, the BISE journal’s download statistics show a strong and increasing interest from Asia-Pacific. For Information Systems Research, Journal of the AIS, and MIS Quarterly it is probably the same. Especially China has not only become increasingly successful in business, but is also starting to do so in research. If China acts just as sophisticated in research on information systems as it acts in business, it will soon increase the probability to become a major player in the global science market. If Europe and North America fail to combine their strengths, they put themselves on the line of becoming the “Old World” in the near future. Not only brands like Information Systems Research, Journal of the AIS, MIS Quarterly, and BISE, but also brands like Oracle and SAP might soon originate from China.

In the last editorial board session, the editors have elected Martin Bichler co-editor-in-chief and asked him to develop a strategy leveraging the journal’s success as a top journal in the global scientific market in the years ahead. It is to be decided on and announced early next year. Martin will be responsible for all submissions as of March 1st, 2013 and take over the complete content responsibility as single editor-in-chief by January 1st, 2014. With their decision, the editors acknowledged among other things that he not only stands for the community’s traditional strengths, but has been successful in publishing in international top-ranked journals.

Last, but not least: Why and how should the BISE community care about rankings, citations, and impact factors? The answer is twofold: First, in the current scientific ecosystem, it would be irresponsible not to encourage young researchers to build up a decent publication portfolio. There are many tenure committees that we have little influence on and that tend to simply decide based upon the number and “measured” quality of publications – especially when no member of the BISE community is involved. An intensified exchange with the NAIS community will help the BISE community reach excellence in research. This is the only way to stay successful in its current ecosystem. We must however not forget about the second step: If members of the BISE community are involved in tenure committees or are reviewing articles, it is their responsibility to establish a multi-criteria rating according to the community’s standards and ideals. Especially at larger schools, it might also be an option to build up a diverse team of scholars with different focuses – also in the mind of complementarity.

Staying within their respective ecosystems is probably a comfortable strategy for individual researchers in both the BISE and the NAIS communities. Advocating such a separation strategy is the work of narrow-minded separatists and endangers the future of the global IS/BISE community. Remember: That way both communities run the risk that, except for very few talents, they cease to exist. Maybe the last dinosaurs lived a happy life, too!

As discussed, the BISE community can learn from the NAIS community’s commitment toward research excellence. But only by maintaining their strengths, BISE scholars can offer experience in industry collaboration to NAIS scholars in return. Due to the complementarity of the BISE and NAIS communities, learning from one another is the way to make the global IS/BISE community happy in the future.

With “freedom of research” being part of several countries’ constitutions, it is in our opinion below tenured scholars’ dignity to let themselves be driven by economic or scientific ecosystems and not trying to drive them by themselves according to their ideals – the more, the better the oportunities are to do so.

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Ulrich Buhl
    • 1
  • Gilbert Fridgen
    • 1
  • Günter Müller
    • 2
  • Maximilian Röglinger
    • 1
  1. 1.FIM Research Center Finance & Information ManagementUniversity of AugsburgAugsburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Telematics Institute of Computer Science and Social StudiesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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