The process of information systems theorizing as a discursive practice

Nik Rushdi Hassan, Lars Mathiassen, Paul Benjamin Lowry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Although there has been a growing understanding of theory in the information systems field in recent years, the process of theorizing is rarely addressed with contributions originating from other disciplines and little effort to coherently synthesize them. Moreover, the field’s view of theorizing has traditionally focused on the context of justification with an emphasis on collection and analysis of data in response to a research question with theory often added as an afterthought. To fill this void, we foreground the context of discovery that emphasizes the creative and often serendipitous articulation of theory by emphasizing this important stage of theorizing as a reflective and highly iterative practice. Specifically, we suggest that information systems researchers engage in foundational theorizing practices to form the discourse, problematize the phenomenon of interest and leverage paradigms and deploy generative theorizing practices through analogies, metaphors, myths and models to develop the information systems discourse. To illustrate the detailed workings of these discursive practices, we draw on key examples from information systems theorizing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-220
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Information systems theory
  • analogies
  • discursive practices
  • metaphors
  • models and concepts
  • myths
  • paradigms
  • problematizing
  • research methods
  • theorizing


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