Diagnosis of an information system failure. A framework and interpretive process

Gordon B. Davis, Allen S. Lee, Kathryn R. Nickles, Sanjay Chatterjee, Robert Hartung, Youlan Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


In diagnosing an episode of information system application failure, the IS professional and others doing the analysis face two challenges: (1) relevant data must be identified, collected, and organized; and (2) the data must be analyzed and interpreted to form a coherent picture of the perspectives, actions, and events which resulted in the troubled or failed system. This article provides a diagnostic framework and interpretive process for performing a diagnosis. The premise underlying the diagnostic framework is that an information system is a social system has uses information technology. The social and technical dimensions in the diagnosis of an information system are represented in a two-dimensional framework. Once the data and comments about the failure have been organized in the framework, the process of interpretation follows procedures based on interpretive methods (hermeneutics). The framework and associated interpretive process assist those doing a diagnosis in applying two powerful bodies of knowledge to failure diagnosis - socio-technical systems and interpretive methods. The article describes the framework and interpretive process, explains the rationale for them, and demonstrates their use for a case situation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-318
Number of pages26
JournalInformation and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1992


  • Hermeneutics
  • Socio-technical analysis
  • System evaluation
  • System failure


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosis of an information system failure. A framework and interpretive process'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this