Advances in Qualitative IS Research Methodologies

Date and Time: June 12, 2016, Full-Day Event, Room(TBA)


Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic, UNSW Australia (

Robert Davison, The City University of Hong Kong, China (

Walter Fernandez, UNSW Australia (

Patrick Finnegan, UNSW Australia (

Shan Pan, UNSW, Australia (

Suprateek Sarker, University of Virginia, USA (

Organizing co-chairs:

Michael Cahalane, UNSW Australia (

Daniel Schlagwein, UNSW Australia (

This workshop is part of the process for selecting papers for the Journal of Association for Information Systems' special issue on Advances in Qualitative IS Research Methodologies.


Research methodologies have been of central importance to the Information Systems (IS) field since its inception. Epistemological and methodological concerns in IS have spawned insightful debates among the community of scholars about legitimate research topics and objects, the nature of knowledge and acceptable ways and forms of knowledge production, as well as relevance for practice. The limitations of dominant research methods and the lack of relevance of IS research have been debated in the last three decades with repeated calls for new approaches and methodological advances (e.g., Hirschheim, 1985; Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991; Hirschheim and Klein, 1992; Walsham, 1995; Galliers, 2001; Mingers, 2003; Chen and Hirschheim, 2004; Niehaves, 2005; Ramiller and Pentland, 2009).

Questions regarding research methodology are becoming even more critical in the digital era wherein IS research phenomena are being found to be increasingly ubiquitous, dynamic, and complex and for which the existing dominant modes of knowledge production are too limiting, and sometimes even obsolete. Being at the epicentre of the digital revolution IS researchers have the opportunity, and indeed an obligation, to lead inquiries into the emerging territories of digital transformations taking place in old and new forms of working and organizing, both locally and globally, in private, public or third sector, and more broadly in societies. These ongoing digital transformations challenge IS researchers to develop new, innovative, and imaginative research methodologies and related methods.

The purpose of this workshop and the special issue of Journal of the Association for Information Systems is to foster and contribute to methodological advances of qualitative research including new philosophical approaches and innovative research designs and methods that enable more profound, critically engaged, practically relevant and reflexive insights into IS and organizing in the digital era. We invite IS scholars to think differently about these emerging and increasingly intertwined social and technological phenomena and explore bold vision and methodological innovations in conducting IS inquiries.

Building on the rich tradition of epistemological and methodological debates in IS and social sciences more broadly, we aim to:

  • Provide an unconventional forum for a critical reflection and wide-open debate on fundamental issues in IS research: paradigmatic and philosophical foundations, epistemological and methodologies choices, and implications for knowledge production, justification and relevance;
  • Stimulate epistemic developments above and beyond the well-trodden methodological paths to encourage and equip IS researchers to grapple with the complex and emerging IS phenomena of the digital age; and
  • Advance IS research by proposing, developing, and show-casing new, visionary and innovative qualitative research methodologies and methods/techniques, and illustrating their contributions to knowledge creation.

We encourage scholars to submit works that contribute to these key aims. Papers of a methodological and conceptual nature as well as those that are empirical are welcome. While contributing to any of the three aims, the papers may focus on, but are not restricted to, the following:

General themes:

  • Epistemological concerns, methodological concerns and concerns with methods - reviews and critical reflections on IS research practices; tensions and challenges of aligning epistemology to methodology and then to method(s);
  • Methodological questions of adopting new philosophies/approaches in IS research (e.g., sociomateriality, practice theory, process theorizing);
  • Alternative modes of IS inquiry - innovative approaches, methodologies and methods; new forms and challenges of knowledge production; technologically enabled and assisted IS inquires;
  • Revisiting generalizability in IS research - past debates vs future challenges;
  • New and emerging IS phenomena/objects/foci/domains in the digital era, such as: digitization processes in private, public and third sector; social networking; virtual(izing) reality; openness phenomena (open innovation, value co-creation); global sourcing and crowdsourcing; new technology-enabled modes of working and organizing; electronic markets; vertical and horizontal transformation of industries; enterprise systems, globalization and transformation of organizations;
  • Qualitative research and methodological challenges in the era of Big Data;
  • New answers to old questions: does IS research matter in practice (and for whom) and why should we care?
  • New strategies and genres for representing qualitative research in electronic journals such as the Journal of the Association for Information Systems.

These themes can be explored on their own and also as part of the following tracks:

  • Methodological advances in case study research including new perspectives/ approaches in case study research of emerging IS phenomena; methodological challenges in multiple cases research; theorizing from cases - new methods and challenges;
  • Methodological advances in field/ethnography/virtual ethnography research including: new ways of doing field work underpinned by novel approaches; field work in new digital environments (virtual, global, distributed, algorithmic worlds); unleashing discovery and learning from field work;
  • Methodological advances in action research including different ontological and epistemological assumptions and their implications in conducting Action Research; integration or comparison of the variants of Action Research; innovative ways of approaching and doing Action Research and advancing theoretical and practical contributions of Action Research;
  • Methodological advances in Grounded Theory approaches to knowledge production and theory building including: innovative ways of grounded theory development; challenges of grounded approaches in case study and field study inquiries, and technological assistance in grounded knowledge production and theory building.

The key characteristics of manuscripts that we seek for this workshop are:

  • Novelty/innovativeness of methodological ideas, ability to transform our view of existing methodologies, or introducing new methodological approaches and methods relevant to studying Information Systems today and in the future;
  • Bold ideas, imaginative perspectives, sound argumentation and, when applicable, empirical illustration of ideas;
  • In case of a manuscript that is empirically-focused, the potential to serve as an exemplar for a particular methodology (say, virtual ethnography, grounded theory development using big data, discourse analysis)
  • Potential for being found useful in the IS discipline and beyond.

Of course, the editors recognize that all of the above criteria are not necessarily relevant to each and every manuscript.

Researchers are invited to submit their paper that addresses one of the nominated themes/tracks and clearly contributes to the aims. First we are inviting authors to submit an extended abstract (up to 1000 words) and based on the feedback submit the full paper.

Participation in this workshop is not compulsory for the submission of a paper to the Journal of the Association for Information Systems' special issue. However, presenting a draft paper at the workshop will be very helpful to the authors for getting early feedback before submitting a paper to the special issue.

Important dates

The submission of abstracts/papers and the important dates are as follows:

21 Feb 2016 deadline for submission of extended abstracts

6 March 201 authors informed of acceptance/rejection of abstracts

15 May 2016 deadline for full paper submission

12 June 2016 Pre-ECIS Workshop in Istanbul (papers presented and discussed)

Abstracts should be submitted to organizing co-chair Michael Cahalane, UNSW Australia (

All papers will be peer reviewed and must follow the standard guidelines for manuscript preparation and submission posted on Journal of the Association for Information Systems website:

Editorial Board

David Avison (ESSEC Business School)
Michel Avital (Copenhagen Business School)
Jenine Beekhuyzen (Griffith University)
Sebastian Boell (University of Sydney)
Tom Butler (University College Cork, Ireland)
Michael Cahalane (UNSW)
John Campbell (University of Canberra)
Andrea Carugatti (Aarhus University)
Suranjan Chakraborty (Towson University)
Mike Chiasson (University of British Columbia)
Bill Doolin (Auckland University of Technology)
Riitta Hekkala (Aalto University)
Nik Hassan (University of Minnesota)
Ola Henfridsson (University of Warwick)
Dirk Hovorka (University of Sydney)
Tina Blegind Jensen (Copenhagen Business School)
Mathew Jones (University of Cambridge)
Julia Kotlarsky, (Aston University)
Eleni Lamprou (ALBA Graduate School of Business)
Magnus Mähring (Stockholm School of Economics)
Michael Myers (University of Auckland)
Olivera Marjanovic (University of Sydney)
Kathy McGrath (Brunel University)
Nathalie Mitev (King's College London London)
Ilan Oshri (University of Loughborough)
Carsten Østerlund (Syracuse University)
Nancy Pouloudi (Athens University of Economics and Business)
Kai Riemer (University of Sydney)
Daniel Schlagwein (UNSW)
Ulrike Schultze (Sothern Methodist University)
Leiser Silva (University of Houston)
Carsten Sorensen (London School of Economics)
Barney Tan (University of Sydney)
Lisa Von Hellens (Griffith University)
Geoff Walsham (University of Cambridge)
Edgar Whitley (London School of Economics)


Chen, W.S. and Hirschheim, R. (2004) A Paradigmatic and Methodological Examination of Information Systems Research from 1991 to 2001. Information Systems Journal, 14 (3), 197-235.

Davison, R.M., Martinsons, M.G. and Ou, C.X.J. (2012) The Roles of Theory in Canonical Action Research, Management Information Systems Quarterly, 36, 3, 763-786.

Davison, R.M., Martinsons, M.G. and Kock, N. (2004) Principles of Canonical Action Research, Information Systems Journal, 14, 1, 65-86.

Galliers, R.D. (1991) Choosing Appropriate Information Systems Research Approaches: A Revised Taxonomy. In: H.-E., Nissen, H.K. Klein, & R. Hirschheim, (Eds), Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, pp. 327-345. Elsevier Science Publishers, North Holland.

Hirschheim, R. (1985). Information Systems Epistemology: An Historical Perspective. In: E. Mumford, G. Fitzgerald, R. Hirschheim, and A.T. Wood-Harper (Eds.), Research Methods in Information Systems, pp. 9-33, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Hirschheim, R. and Klein, H.K. (1992) Paradigmatic Influences on Information Systems Development Methodologies: Evolution and Conceptual Advances. Advances in Computers, 34, 293-392.

Niehaves, B. (2005). Epistemological Perspectives on Multi-Method Information Systems Research. European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS2005, (pp. 1584-1595), Regensburg, Germany.

Orlikowski, W.J. and Baroudi, J.J. (1991). Studying Information Technology in Organizations: Research Approaches and Assumptions. Information Systems Research, 2(1), 1-28.

Ramiller, N.C. and Pentland, B.T. (2009) Management Implications in Information Systems Research: The Untold Story. Journal of the AIS, 10, 6, 447-494.

Sarker, S., Xiao, X., and Beaulieu, T. "Qualitative Studies in Information Systems: A Critical Review and Some Guiding Principles,” MIS Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4, December 2013, pp. iii-xviii

Walsham, G. (1995) The Emergence of Interpretivism in IS research. Information Systems Research, 6, 376-394.


Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic is Professor of Information Systems at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. Her research interests include methodological developments in qualitative, critical and post-modern IS research that contributes to better and deeper understanding of IS and its consequences in organizational and societal contexts. Her recent passion is exploration of hidden modes of IS acting in our work and private lives. She has published in major IS journals and conferences. Dubravka is Senior Editor of Journal of Association for Information Systems and Information Systems Journal.
Robert Davison is Professor of Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong. His current research focuses on Action Research, Knowledge Management and Collaborative Problem Solving in Chinese firms. While Robert is open to a variety of approaches, he is instinctively an interpretivist researcher who has a passion for small, but rich, data. He has published over 80 articles in a variety of journals and a similar number of conference papers. Robert is the Editor-in-Chief of the Information Systems Journal, IT & People and the Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries.
Walter Fernandez is Professor of Information Systems at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. His research focuses on managing major IS projects and programmes, IT-enabled organisational change, and exploratory research methodologies. He enjoys studying implementation processes, usually using case study and grounded theory method. Walter is the Inaugural Chair of the AIS SIG on Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) and serves as Associate Editor on the editorial boards of European Journal of Information Systems, Journal of Association for Information Systems and Information Systems Research. He has published extensively in leading IS journals and conferences.
Patrick Finnegan is Professor of Information Systems and Head of the School of Information Systems, Technology and Management at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. He is a Senior Editor of the Information Systems Journal and Foundations and Trends in Information Systems. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Strategic Information Systems. His work on IS strategy, e-business, and IS innovation, which adopts a multi-method perspective, has been published in the proceedings of leading IS conferences and in a variety of journals.
Shan L Pan is Professor of Information Systems at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. His current research focuses on digital enablement in business and social innovation. Shan served as an Associate Editor for the MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and is currently serving as an Associate Editor of Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, and Information and Management. He has published extensively in leading IS journals and conferences.
Suprateek (Supra) Sarker is Professor of Information Technology at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia, and Visiting Distinguished Professor at Aalto University, Finland. While being open to different research traditions, Suprateek is very passionate about qualitative research, and is keen to ensure that qualitative research, in all its variety, is welcomed and appreciated in "mainstream” IS research journals. Suprateek is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Association for Information Systems, as a Senior Editor (Emeritus) for the MIS Quarterly, and as a Senior Editor of Decision Sciences Journal. He also serves on the editorial boards of leading journals including Journal of Management Information Systems and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.


Organizing co-chairs:

Shan L Pan is Professor of Information Systems at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. His current research focuses on digital enablement in business and social innovation. Shan served as an Associate Editor for the MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and is currently serving as an Associate Editor of Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, and Information and Management. He has published extensively in leading IS journals and conferences.
Daniel Schlagwein is a Lecturer of Information Systems at the UNSW Australia Business School in Sydney. Daniel's research interest is on crowdsourcing and openness. He has co-edited two special issues and has chaired several tracks on these topics. Daniel has published 30 peer-reviewed papers including in Decision Support Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Information Technology, Journal of the Association for Information Systems and MIS Quarterly Executive.