The Rhetoric and Relevance of IS Research Paradigms: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence

45 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2010 Last revised: 19 Jun 2014

See all articles by Deepak Khazanchi

Deepak Khazanchi

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Bjørn Erik Munkvold

University of Agder - Department of Information Systems

Date Written: April 26, 2006

Abstract

This paper discusses the relevance of IS research with respect to the rhetoric associated with the three major IS research paradigms in use - positivism, constructivism/interpretivism and critical research. The conceptual discussion is framed in terms of the following dimensions: ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions, relationship between theory and practice, and the role of the researcher in the research process. Based on this discussion, we propose a conceptual model to study the relationship between the espoused philosophical assumptions of researchers and the degree of relevance of researchers’ knowledge claims. This conceptual model was evaluated with data obtained from a survey of IS academics who are ISWorld subscribers. The survey produced 112 responses and analysis of the data indicates that the variation in the degree of relevance of knowledge claims as targeted toward different stakeholders (i.e., practitioners, scholars, educators, users, politicians, economists, citizens, society, nation, and global) can be explained by the researchers’ espoused framework, the context of research, degree of sustainability desired for knowledge claims, and the type of research being conducted. Furthermore, post-hoc analysis using multiple comparisons indicates that there is no statistical difference between researchers from different philosophical perspectives and that there is a common focus on the bottom line impact of researchers’ knowledge claims on stakeholders. Thus, for example, interpretivists’ espoused paradigms are somewhat in contrast to their emphasis on achieving relevance for practice as well as theory. We did find one exception to this conclusion - a significant difference exists between respondents who identity themselves as interpretivists/constructivists and positivists in terms of the degree of relevance to citizens, with the former being substantially higher than the latter. We also found that there is a significant difference between those who claim to conduct basic research versus those who either conduct applied research or both basic and applied research in terms of the relevance of their knowledge claims for practitioners, educators, and users.

Suggested Citation

Khazanchi, Deepak and Munkvold, Bjørn Erik, The Rhetoric and Relevance of IS Research Paradigms: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence (April 26, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666273 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1666273

Deepak Khazanchi (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Omaha ( email )

College of Information Science & Technology
The Peter Kiewit Institute, PKI 172C
Omaha, NE 68182
United States
+1402554-2029 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://khazanchi.ist.unomaha.edu

Bjørn Erik Munkvold

University of Agder - Department of Information Systems ( email )

Post Box 422, NO-4604
Kristiansand
Norway

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