On the Shortage of Engineering in Recent Information Systems Research
Gruner, Stefan; Kroeze, Jan
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In this paper we argue that the so-called 'positivism'-versus-'interpretivism' conflict raised by some constructivist, postmodernist, relativist philosophers and methodologists in information systems research is merely a pseudo problem which has no basis in reality. This pseudo problem of so-called 'positivism' versus 'interpretivism' only distracts from the genuine problem of the information systems discipline, namely the design and construction of reliable devices from reasonable specifications, for well-defined purposes, on the basis of scientifically acceptable principles. In contrast to those relativist 'philosophies' we show that information systems research actually belongs to the domain of engineering which already has its time-tested methodology and epistemology, including a trinity of scientific-nomothetic, hermeneutic-idiographic, as well as pragmatic-normative elements. By accepting fact that information systems research is a specific instance of engineering research, which also includes (and has always included) the un-quantifiable 'human dimension', a number of fruitless debates can be terminated for the sake of genuine progress in information systems' theory, design and deployment.