Paradigm lost. paradigm gained: A hermeneutical rejoinder to Banville and Landry's 'Can the Field of MIS be Disciplined?'

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This study offers an alternative interpretation to Banville and Landry's (B&L, 1989) Can the Field of MIS Be Disciplined?, the canonical text that argued persuasively against the adoption of the Kuhnian view of scientific progress for the information systems (IS) field. Much has transpired in the quarter of a century since its publication, which provides us with new sources of understanding about paradigms and how they relate to the challenges faced by the IS field. On the basis of the hermeneutical principles of tradition, prejudice, temporal distance, history of effect and application, this study describes the context from which B&L was written, its dependence on Whitley's (1984) The Intellectual and Social Organization of the Sciences, and examines several of its claims and assertions. In contrast to B&L, this study finds the Kuhnian model of scientific progress well suited for a multidisciplinary and pluralistic field like IS and concludes with guidelines on how to reclaim the more transformative aspects of the paradigm concept, engender a culture of contextual borrowing from reference disciplines, and encourage conceptual development and autonomous theory construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-615
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 5 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • IS philosophy
  • IS theory
  • Kuhnian paradigms and normal science
  • hermeneutics
  • information systems (IS) disciplinarity
  • sociology of science and knowledge.


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