Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 249–266 | Cite as

Information Systems Knowledge: Foundations, Definitions, and Applications

  • Lee A. Freeman


A key component of research within information systems is the use of valid instruments to measure numerous aspects of technology, organizations, and people. Validated instruments exist for many different variables and more are available all the time. Knowledge of a particular domain is an integral part of working competently, effectively, and successfully within that domain (N.M. Degele, World Futures, 50, 743–755, 1997). Therefore, this paper will describe the rationale for the development of an instrument to measure the information systems knowledge of individuals. This rationale is rooted in several streams of research, such as absorptive capacity and certainty of knowledge, and focuses on three main questions: why measure knowledge of information systems, how to measure this knowledge, and what to actually measure. The definitions of knowledge and information systems knowledge are developed and refined through an analysis of the literature covering the philosophical, psychological, and educational aspects of knowledge. The resulting models of knowledge and specifically information systems knowledge are then applied to research streams within the information systems discipline as well as practitioner-oriented needs.

knowledge models of knowledge information systems knowledge instrument development 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams DA, Nelson RR, Todd P. Perceived usefulness, ease of use, and usage of information technology: A replication. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1992;16(2):227–247.Google Scholar
  2. Allen JW. The Relationship Between Microcomputer Playfulness and End-User Intention to Adopt Information Technology. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Georgia State University, 1998.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson JR. Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1980.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson JR. The Architecture of Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  5. Anzai Y. Learning and use of representations for Physics expertise. In: Ericsson KA and Smith J, ed. Toward a General Theory of Expertise: Prospects and Limits. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1991:64–92.Google Scholar
  6. Bailey JE, Pearson SW. Development of a tool for measuring and analyzing computer user satisfaction. Management Science 1983;29(5):530–545.Google Scholar
  7. Ball L, Harris R. SMIS members: A membership analysis. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1982;6(1):19–38.Google Scholar
  8. Bandura A. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review 1977;84(2):191–215.Google Scholar
  9. Bandura A, Schunk DH. Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1981;41:586–598.Google Scholar
  10. Barki H, Hartwick J. Measuring user participation, user involvement, and user attitude. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1994;18(1):59–82.Google Scholar
  11. Barki H, Rivard S, Talbot J. A keyword classification scheme for IS research literature: An update. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1993;17(2):209–226.Google Scholar
  12. Bartol KM, Martin DC. Managing information systems personnel: A review of the literature and managerial implications. Management Information Systems Quarterly Special Issue 1982;6:49–70.Google Scholar
  13. Bateson G. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. London: Chandler Publishing Company, 1972.Google Scholar
  14. Benbasat I, Dexter AS, Mantha RW. Impact of organizational maturity on information system skill needs. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1980;4(1):21–34.Google Scholar
  15. Bhatt GD, Dalal NP. Rethinking the role of information systems in a changing age: An exploration. In: Gupta JND, ed. Proceedings of the 3rd Americas Conference on Information Systems 1997:351–353.Google Scholar
  16. Bower GH, Hilgard ER. Theories of Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981.Google Scholar
  17. Brancheau JC, Janz BD, Wetherbe JC. Key issues in information systems management: 1994–95 SIM Delphi results. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1996;20(2):225–242.Google Scholar
  18. Brancheau JC, Wetherbe JC. Key issues in information systems management. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1987;11(1):23–45.Google Scholar
  19. Burkhardt ME, Brass DJ. Changing patterns or patterns of change: The effects of a change in technology on social network structure and power. Administrative Science Quarterly 1990;35:104–127.Google Scholar
  20. Carrier LS. The roots of knowledge. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 1993;74(2):81–95.Google Scholar
  21. Cheney PH, Lyons NR. Information systems skill requirements: A survey. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1980;4(1):35–43.Google Scholar
  22. Chi MTH, Glaser R, Rees E. Expertise in problem solving. In: Sternberg RJ, ed. Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence, Volume 1. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1982:7–75.Google Scholar
  23. Cohen WM, Levinthal DA. Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly 1990;35:128–152.Google Scholar
  24. Compeau DR, Higgins CA. The development of a measure of computer self-efficacy. Paper Presented at The Administrative Science Association of Canada, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, 1991.Google Scholar
  25. Compeau DR, Higgins CA. Computer self-efficacy: Development of a measure and initial test. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1995a;19(2):189–211.Google Scholar
  26. Compeau DR, Higgins CA. Application of social cognitive theory to training for computer skills. Information Systems Research 1995b;6(2):118–143.Google Scholar
  27. Constant D, Kiesler S, Sproull L. What's mine is ours, or is it? A study of attitudes about information sharing. Information Systems Research 1994;5(4):400–421.Google Scholar
  28. Craig E. Knowledge and the State of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  29. Davis FD. A Technology Acceptance Model for Empirically Testing New End-User Information Systems: Theory and Results. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986.Google Scholar
  30. Davis FD. Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1989;13(3):319–340.Google Scholar
  31. Davis FD, Bagozzi RP, Warshaw PR. User acceptance of computer technology: A comparison of two theoretical models. Management Science 1989;35(8):982–1003.Google Scholar
  32. Davis SA, Bostrom RP. Training end users: An experimental investigation of the roles of the computer interface and training methods. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1993;17(1):61–85.Google Scholar
  33. de Jong T, Ferguson-Hessler MGM. Types and Qualities of Knowledge: An Application to Physics Problem Solving. IST Internal-Memo 95-05. Enschede (The Netherlands): University of Twente, Faculty of Educational Science and Technology, 1995.Google Scholar
  34. de Jong T, Ferguson-Hessler MGM. Types and qualities of knowledge. Educational Psychologist 1996;31(2):105–114.Google Scholar
  35. Degele NM. Knowledge in the information society. World Futures 1997;50:743–755.Google Scholar
  36. DeLone WH, McLean ER. Information systems success: The quest for the dependent variable. Information Systems Research 1992;3(1):60–95.Google Scholar
  37. DeSanctis G. Expectancy theory as an explanation of voluntary use of a decision support system. Psychological Reports 1983;52:247–260.Google Scholar
  38. Dickson GW, Leitheiser RL, Wetherbe JC, Nechis M. Key information systems issues for the 1980's. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1984;8(3):135–159.Google Scholar
  39. Doll WJ, Torkzadeh G. The measurement of end-user computing satisfaction. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1988;12(2):259–274.Google Scholar
  40. Freeman LA. The Effects of Concept Mapping on Shared Understanding During the Requirements Elicitation Phase of Information Systems Development. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Indiana University, 2000.Google Scholar
  41. Gefen D, Straub DW. Gender differences in the perception and use of e-mail: An extension to the technology acceptance model. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1997;21(4):389–400.Google Scholar
  42. Glaser R. The maturing of the relationship between the science of learning and cognition and educational practice. Learning and Instruction 1991;1:129–144.Google Scholar
  43. Glass CG, Knight LA. Cognitive factors in computer anxiety. Cognitive Therapy and Research 1988;12:351–366.Google Scholar
  44. Haeckel SH, Nolan RL. The role of technology in an information age: transforming symbols into action. Annual Review of Institute for Information Studies, The Knowledge Economy: The Nature of Information in the 21st Century, 1994.Google Scholar
  45. Harter SP, Hert CA. Evaluation of information retrieval systems: Approaches, issues, and methods. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 1997;32:3–94.Google Scholar
  46. Hartwick J, Barki H. Explaining the role of user participation in information system use. Management Science 1994;40(4):440–465.Google Scholar
  47. Hedlund G, Nonaka I. Models of knowledge management in the West and Japan. In: Lorange P, Chakravarthy B, Roos J and Van de Ven A, ed. Implementing Strategic Processes: Change, Learning and Co-operation. London: Basil Blackwell, Ltd, 1993:117–144.Google Scholar
  48. Henry RM, Dickson GB, LaSalle J. Human Resources for MIS: A Report of Research.Working Paper, 74-01, MIS Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1974.Google Scholar
  49. Hill T, Smith ND, Mann MF. Communicating innovations: Convincing computer phobics to adopt innovative technologies. In: Lutz RJ, ed. Advances in Consumer Research Vol. 13. Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 1985:419–422.Google Scholar
  50. Hintikka J. Knowledge acknowledged: Knowledge of propositions vs. knowledge of objects. Philosophy & Phenomenological Research 1996;56(2):251–275.Google Scholar
  51. Hunt DP, Furustig H. Being informed, being misinformed and disinformation: A human learning and performance approach. National Defence Research Institute, Technical Report PM 1989;56(238):1–17.Google Scholar
  52. Hunt DP, Hassmén P. What it means to know something. Reports from the Department of Psychology, U. Stockholm (#835), 1997:1–17.Google Scholar
  53. Hunt DP, Sams MR. Human self-assessment process theory: An eight-factor model of human performance and learning; and everyman's causation. In: Ljunggren G and Dornic S, ed. Psychophysics in Action. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1989: 41–53.Google Scholar
  54. Hunt R, Sanders GL. Propaedeutics of decision-making: Supporting managerial learning and innovation. Decision Support Systems 1986;2(2):125–134.Google Scholar
  55. Igbaria M, Iivari J. The effects of self-efficacy on computer usage. Omega 1995;23(6):587–605.Google Scholar
  56. Ives B, Olson MH. User involvement and MIS success: A review of research. Management Science 1984;30(5):586–603.Google Scholar
  57. Ives B, Olson MH, Baroudi JJ. The measurement of user information satisfaction. Communications of the ACM 1983; 26(10):785–793.Google Scholar
  58. Jackson CM, Chow S, Leitch, RA. Toward an understanding of the behavioral intention to use an information system. Decision Sciences 1997;28(2):357–390.Google Scholar
  59. Jeffrey HJ. Controversy corner: Addressing the essential difficulties of software engineering. The Journal of Systems and Software 1996;32(2):157–179.Google Scholar
  60. Jones WE. Why do we value knowledge? American Philosophical Quarterly 1997;34(4):423–439.Google Scholar
  61. Junnarkar B, Brown CV. Re-assessing the enabling role of information technology in KM. Journal of Knowledge Management 1997;1(2):142–148.Google Scholar
  62. Kerr MR. Tacit knowledge as a predictor of managerial success: A field study. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 1995;27(1):36–51.Google Scholar
  63. Lamberti DM, Wallace WA. Intelligent interface design: An empirical assessment of knowledge presentation in expert systems. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1990;14(3):279–311.Google Scholar
  64. Larkin JH. What kind of knowledge transfers? In: Resnick LB, ed. Knowing, Learning, and Instruction: Essays in Honor of Robert Glaser. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1989:284–306.Google Scholar
  65. Larkin JH, Simon HA. Why a diagram is sometimes worth ten thousand words. Cognitive Science 1987;11:65–100.Google Scholar
  66. Lenat DB. Knowledge representation. In: Firebaugh MW, ed. Artificial Intelligence. Boston: Boyd & Fraser, 1988:274–299.Google Scholar
  67. Lieberman JN. Playfulness. New York: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  68. Lim KH, Ward LM, Benbasat I. An empirical study of computer system learning: Comparison of co-discovery and self-discovery methods. Information Systems Research 1997;8(3):254–272.Google Scholar
  69. Lindsay PH, Norman DA. Human Information Processing. Orlando, FL: Academic Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  70. Machlup F. Knowledge: Its Creation, Distribution, and Economic Significance, Volume 1: Knowledge and Knowledge Production. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  71. Machlup F. Semantic quirks in studies of information. In: Machlup F and Mansfield U, ed. The Study of Information. New York: John Wiley, 1983:641–671.Google Scholar
  72. Marakas GM. The discovery-learning DSS: allowing for discovery in the decision process. In Proceedings of the 28th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 1995:72–81.Google Scholar
  73. Marakas GM, Elam JJ. Semantic structuring in analyst acquisition and representation of facts in requirements analysis. Information Systems Research 1998;9(1):37–63.Google Scholar
  74. Marakas GM, Yi MY, Johnson, RD. The multilevel and multifaceted character of computer self-efficacy: Toward clarification of the construct and an integrative framework for research. Information Systems Research 1998;9(2):126–163.Google Scholar
  75. Marton F, Säljö R. On qualitative differences in learning: Outcome and process. British Journal of Educational Psychology 1976;46:4–11.Google Scholar
  76. IS Knowledge: Foundations, Definitions, and Applications Mason RO, Mason FM, Culnan M. Ethics of Information Management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc, 1995.Google Scholar
  77. Meier ST. Computer aversion. Computers in Human Behavior 1985;1:171–179.Google Scholar
  78. Melone NP. A theoretical assessment of the user-satisfaction construct in information systems research. Management Science 1990;36(1):76–91.Google Scholar
  79. Miura IT. The relationship between self-efficacy expectations to computer interest and course enrollment in college. Sex Roles 1987;16(5–6):303–311.Google Scholar
  80. Montoya-Weiss MM, Massey AP. Using information technology to support organizational, knowledge exchange in technology transfer. Organization Science (under review).Google Scholar
  81. Moore GC, Benbasat I. Development of an instrument to measure the perceptions of adopting an information technology innovation. Information Systems Research 1991;2(3):192–222.Google Scholar
  82. Nelson RR. Educational needs as perceived by IS and end-user personnel: A survey of knowledge and skill requirements, Management Information Systems Quarterly 1991;15(4):503–525.Google Scholar
  83. Nelson RR, Cheney PH. Training end users: An exploratory study. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1987;11(4):547–559.Google Scholar
  84. Niederman F, Brancheau JC, Wetherbe JC. Information systems management issues for the 1990s. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1991;15(4):475–500.Google Scholar
  85. Nielsen J. Usability Engineering. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  86. Nonaka I. A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organization Science 1994;5(1):14–37.Google Scholar
  87. Nyiri JC. The concept of knowledge in the context of electronic networking. Monist 1997;80(3):405–422.Google Scholar
  88. Pears D. What is Knowledge? New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971.Google Scholar
  89. Pirolli P, Wilson M. A theory of the measurement of knowledge content, access, and learning. Psychological Review 1998;105(1):58–82.Google Scholar
  90. Plotkin H. Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  91. Polanyi M. The Tacit Dimension. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966.Google Scholar
  92. Quinn JB, Anderson P, Finkelstein S. Managing professional intellect: Making the most of the best. Harvard Business Review 1996;74(2):71–80.Google Scholar
  93. Rasch G. Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for Educational Research, 1960.Google Scholar
  94. Reif F. Understanding and teaching problem solving in physics. In Research on Physics Education: Proceedings of the First International Workshop Lalonde les Maures. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1984:15–53.Google Scholar
  95. Reif F. Instructional design, cognition, and technology: Applications to the teaching of science concepts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 1987;24(4):309–324.Google Scholar
  96. Rieman J. A field study of exploratory learning strategies. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 1996;3(3):189–218.Google Scholar
  97. Rumelhart DE. Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In: Spiro RJ, Bruce BC and Brewer WF, ed. Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension: Perspectives in Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence, and Education. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1980:33–58.Google Scholar
  98. Ryle G. The Concept of Mind. London: Huchinson, 1966.Google Scholar
  99. Sage AP, Rouse WB. Information systems frontiers in knowledge management. Information Systems Frontiers 1999;1(3):205–219.Google Scholar
  100. Saleem N. An empirical test of the contingency approach to user participation in information systems development. Journal of Management Information Systems 1996;13(1):145–166.Google Scholar
  101. Schneider W, Korkel J, Weinert FE. Expert knowledge, general abilities, and text processing. In: Schneider W and Weinert FE, ed. Interactions Among Aptitudes, Strategies, and Knowledge in Cognitive Performance. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990:235–251.Google Scholar
  102. Schön, DA. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books, Inc, 1983.Google Scholar
  103. Schunk DH. Self-efficacy perspective on achievement behavior. Educational Psychologist 1984;19:48–58.Google Scholar
  104. Sein MK, Bostrom RP, Olfman L. Rethinking end-user training strategy: Applying a hierarchical knowledge-level model. Journal of End User Computing 1999;11(1):32–39.Google Scholar
  105. Snow RE. Toward assessment of cognitive and conative structures in learning. Educational Researcher 1989;18:8–15.Google Scholar
  106. Spiro RJ. Understanding and remembering verbal information: Implications of psychological research for knowledge synthesis. In: Ward SA and Reed LJ, ed. Knowledge Structure and Use: Implications for Synthesis and Interpretation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983:85–117.Google Scholar
  107. Srinivasan A. Alternative measures of system effectiveness: Associations and implications. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1985;9(3):243–253.Google Scholar
  108. Starbuck WH, Webster J. When is play productive? Accounting, Management, and Information Technology 1991;1(1):71–90.Google Scholar
  109. Sternberg RJ. Theory and measurement of tacit knowledge as a part of practical knowledge. Zeitschrift fuer Psychologie 1995;203(4):319–334.Google Scholar
  110. Straub DW. Validating instruments in MIS research. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1989;13(2):147–166.Google Scholar
  111. Tan M. Establishing mutual understanding in systems design: An empirical study. Journal of Management Information Systems 1994;10(4):159–182.Google Scholar
  112. Taylor S, Todd PA. Understanding information technology usage: A test of competing models. Information Systems Research 1995;6(2):144–176.Google Scholar
  113. Toris C. Suggested approaches to the measurement of computer anxiety. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association, 1984.Google Scholar
  114. Valencia SW, Stallman AC. Multiple measures of prior knowledge: Comparative predictive ability. National Reading Conference Yearbook 1989;38:427–436.Google Scholar
  115. Vance D. Information, knowledge and wisdom: The epistemic hierarchy and computer-based information systems. In: Gupta JND, ed. Proceedings of the 3rd Americas Conference on Information Systems. 1997:348–350.Google Scholar
  116. Vessey I, Galletta D. Cognitive fit: An empirical study of information acquisition. Information Systems Research 1991;2(1):63–84.Google Scholar
  117. Wagner RK.Tacit knowledge in everyday intelligent behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1987;52(6):1236–1247.Google Scholar
  118. Ward SA. Knowledge structures and knowledge synthesis. In:Ward SA and Reed LJ, ed. Knowledge Structure and Use: Implications for Synthesis and Interpretation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983:19–44.Google Scholar
  119. Webster J, Martocchio JJ. Microcomputer playfulness: Development of a measure with workplace implications. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1992;16(2):201–226.Google Scholar
  120. Webster J, Martocchio JJ. Turning work into play: Implications for microcomputer software training. Journal of Management 1993;19(1):127–146.Google Scholar
  121. Weigel RH. Behavioral implications of knowledge: Lessons from the attitude-behavior controversy. In: Ward SA and Reed LJ, ed. Knowledge Structure and Use: Implications for Synthesis and Interpretation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983:119–152.Google Scholar
  122. Zmud RW. Individual differences and MIS success: A review of the empirical literature. Management Science 1979;25(10):966–979.Google Scholar
  123. Zmud RW. Information Systems in Organizations. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1983.Google Scholar
  124. Zmud RW, Cox JF. The implementation process:Achange approach. Management Information Systems Quarterly 1979; 3(2):35–44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee A. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management Studies, School of ManagementThe University of Michigan – DearbornDearbornUSA

Personalised recommendations