Advertisement

Critical Realist Information Systems Research in Action

  • Sven A. Carlsson
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 356)

Abstract

There is a growing interest in critical realism (CR) in Information Systems (IS) research. This paper presents and discusses how critical realism can be an alternative philosophical underpinning for IS research. It briefly presents critical realism and how it can be used in IS research. Contemporary examples of how CR have been used in IS research are presented and discussed. The future use of CR in IS research is also discussed.

Keywords

Critical realism empirical research theory development design science research theory testing evaluation research 

References

  1. 1.
    Ackroyd, S., Fleetwood, S. (eds.): Realist Perspectives on Management and Organizations. Routledge, London (2000)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Archer, M.S.: Social Origins of Educational Systems. Sage, London (1979)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Archer, M.S.: Realist Social Theory: The Morpohogenetic Approach. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Archer, M.S.: Morphogenesis/Morphostatis. In: Hartwig, M. (ed.) Dictionary of Critical Realism, p. 319. Routledge, London (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Archer, M., Bhaskar, R., Collier, A., Lawson, T., Norrie, A. (eds.): Critical Realism: Essential Readings. Routledge, London (1998)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bhaskar, R.: A Realist Theory of Science. Harvester Press, Sussex (1978)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bhaskar, R.: Reclaiming Reality. Verso, London (1989)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bhaskar, R.: Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom. Basil Blackwell, Oxford (1991)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bhaskar, R.: The Possibility of Naturalism, 3rd edn. Routledge, London (1998)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bhaskar, R.: Reflections on Meta-Reality. Sage, London (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bergene, A.C.: Towards a Critical Realist Comparative Methodology: Context-Sensitive Theoretical Comparison. J. of Critical Realism 6(1), 5–27 (2007)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Carlsson, S.A.: Advancing Information Systems Evaluation (Research): A Critical Realist Approach. Electronic J. of Information Systems Evaluation 6(2), 11–20 (2003)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Carlsson, S.A.: Using Critical Realism in IS Research. In: Whitman, M.E., Woszczynski, A.B. (eds.) The Handbook of Information Systems Research, pp. 323–338. Idea Group Publishing, Hershey (2004)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Carlsson, S.A.: Design Science Research in Information Systems: A Critical Realist Approach. In: Hevner, A., Chatterjee, S. (eds.) Design Research in Information Systems, pp. 209–233. Springer, New York (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Carlsson, S.A., Henningsson, S., Hrastinski, S., Keller, C.: Socio-technical IS Design Science Research: Developing Design Theory for IS Integration Management. Information Systems and e-Business Management 9(1), 109–131 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dean, K., Joseph, J., Norrie, A.: Editorial: New Essays in Critical Realism. New Formations 56, 7–26 (2005)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    De Vaujany, F.-C.: Capturing Reflexivitiy Modes in IS: A Critical Realist Approach. Information and Organization 18, 51–71 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dobson, P.J.: The Philosophy of Critical Realism–An Opportunity for Information Systems Research. Information Systems Frontier 3(2), 199–201 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dobson, P., Myles, J., Jackson, P.: Making the Case for Critical Realism: Examining the Implementation of Automated Performance Management Systems. Information Resources Management Journal 20(2), 138–152 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Downward, P., Mearman, A.: Retroduction as Mixed-methods Triangulation in Economic Research: Reorienting Economics into Social Science. Cambridge Journal of Economics 31, 77–99 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Easton, G.: Critical Realism in Case Study Research. Industrial Marketing Management 39, 118–128 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    El Sawy, O.A.: Personal communication (August 2006)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fleetwood, S.: Boylan and O’Gorman’s Causal Holism: A Critical Realist Evaluation. Cambridge Journal of Economics 26, 27–45 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fleetwood, S., Ackroyd, S. (eds.): Critical Realist Applications in Organization and Management Studies. Routledge, London (2004)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Giddens, A.: The Constitution of Society. Polity Press, Cambridge (1984)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gregor, S.: The Nature of Theory in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly 30(3), 611–642 (2006)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gregor, S.: Building Theory in the Sciences of the Artificial. In: DESRIST 2009, Malvern, PA, May 7-8 (2009) Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hartwig, M. (ed.): Dictionary of Critical Realism. Routledge, London (2007)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Henningsson, S., Carlsson, S.A.: The DySIIM Model for Managing IS Integration in Mergers & Acquisitions. Information Systems Journal (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hesketh, A., Fleetwood, S.: Beyond Measuring the Human Resources Management Organizational Performance Link: Applying Critical Realist Meta-Theory. Organization 13(5), 677–699 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hevner, A.R., March, S.T., Park, J., Ram, S.: Design Science in Information Systems Research. MIS Quarterly 28(1), 75–105 (2004)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hrastinski, S., Keller, C., Carlsson, S.A.: Design Exemplars for Synchronous e-Learning: A Design Theory Approach. Computers & Education 55, 652–662 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Houston, S.: Prising Open the Black Box: Critical Realism, Action Research and Social Work. Qualitative Social Work 9(1), 73–91 (2010)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kazi, M.A.F.: Realist Evaluation in Practice. Sage, London (2003)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Layder, D.: New Strategies in Social Research. Polity Press, Cambridge (1993)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Layder, D.: Sociological Practice: Linking Theory and Social Research. Sage, London (1998)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lòpez, J., Potter, G. (eds.): After Postmodernism: An Introduction to Critical Realism. Athlone, London (2001)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lyytinen, K.: Design: Shaping in the Wild. Keynote speech at the Third International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems & Technology (DESRIST 2008), Atlanta, GA, May 7-9 (2008) Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    McKay, J., Marshall, P.: A Review of Design Science in Information Systems. In: Proceedings of the 16th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, Sydney, November 29-December 2 (2005)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Miller, K.D., Tsang, E.W.K.: Testing Management Theories: Critical Realist Philosophy and Research Methods. Strategic Management J. 32, 139–158 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Mingers, J.: Re-establishing the Real: Critical Realism and Information Systems. In: Mingers, J., Willcocks, L. (eds.) Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems, pp. 372–406. Wiley, Chichester (2004)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mole, K.F., Mole, M.: Entrepreneurship as the Structuration of Individual and Opportunity: A Response Using Critical Realism. J. of Business Venturing 25, 230–237 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Morton, P.A.: Explaining Outcomes of Strategic Information Systems Planning Using a Critical Realist Approach. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, School of Business IT and Logistics, RMIT University, Melbourne (2010)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mutch, A.: Actors and Networks or Agents and Structures: Towards a Realist View of Information Systems. Organizations 9(3), 477–496 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Myles, J.F.: Discovering Critical Success Factors for Implementing an Automated Measurement System: A Case Study Approach. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Management, Edith Cowan University (2008)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Oroviogoicoechea, C.: A Realistic Evaluation of the Impact of a Computerized Information System on Clinical Practice: The Nurses’ Perspective. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield (2007)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Oroviogoicoechea, C., Watson, R.: A Quantitative Analysis of the Impact of a Computerized Information System on Nurses’ Clinical Practice Using a Realistic Evaluation Framework. International J. of Medical Informatics 78, 839–849 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Pawson, R.: Evidence-Based Policy: A Realist Perspective. Sage, London (2006)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Pawson, R., Tilley, N.: Realistic Evaluation. Sage, London (1997)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Pentland, B.T., Feldman, M.S.: Organizational Routines as a Unit of Analysis. Industrial and Corporate Change 14, 793–815 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Robson, C.: Real World Research, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Oxford (2002)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Sayer, A.: Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, 2nd edn. Routledge, London (1992)Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Sayer, A.: Realism and Social Science. Sage, London (2000)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Smith, M.L.: Overcoming Theory-Practice Inconsistencies: Critical Realism and Information Systems Research. Working Paper 134, Department of Information Systems, London School of Economics (2005)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Strong, D.M., Volkoff, O.: Understanding OrganizationBEnterprise System Fit: A Path to Theorizing the Information Technology Artifact. MIS Quarterly 34(4), 731–756 (2010)Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    van Aken, J.E.: Management Research as a Design Science: Articulating the Research Products of Mode 2 Knowledge Production in Management. British J. of Management 16(1), 19–36 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    van Aken, J.E.: Management Research Based on the Paradigm of Design Sciences: The Quest for Field-tested and Grounded Technological Rules. J. of Management Studies 41(2), 219–246 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Volkoff, O., Strong, D.M., Elmes, M.B.: Technological Embeddedness and Organizational Change. Organization Science 18(5), 832–848 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Walls, J.G., Widmeyer, G.R., El Sawy, O.A.: Building an Information Systems Design Theory for Vigilant EIS. Information Systems Research 3(1), 36–59 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Wilson, M., Greenhill, A.: Theory and Action for Emancipation: Elements of a Critical Realist Approach. In: Kaplan, B., Truex III, D., Wastell, D., Wood-Harper, T., DeGross, J. (eds.) Information Systems Research: Relevant Theory and Informed Practice, pp. 667–675. Kluwer, Amsterdam (2004)Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Zachariadis, M., Scott, S., Barrett, M.: Designing Mixed-Method Research Inspired by a Critical Realism Philosophy: A Tale from the Field of IS Innovation. In: ICIS Proceedings, paper 265 (2010)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven A. Carlsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Informatics, School of Economics and MangementLund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations