Making IS Relevant in a Connected World
Revisiting the Intellectual Structures Framework
Keywords:Intellectual Structures Framework, Relevance of IS, Complexity, IS adhocracy
The exponential growth of the Internet since the mid-1990s has greatly expanded the capacity of people everywhere to interconnect and engage through digital technologies. As a complex adaptive system of systems, the Internet has extended the range and complexity of phenomena of interest to Information Systems (IS) scholars. This is both an exciting opportunity and a challenge which we explore in this paper by revisiting the Intellectual Structures Framework (Hirshheim et al. 1996) which attempted to make sense of the fragmented adhocracy of IS, before the expansion and penetration of the Internet. We suggest that the IS adhocracy, with its multi-disciplinary and systems-oriented nature, gives IS researchers the requisite variety to contend with the increasingly diverse digital ecologies of IS-enabled human activities that have emerged in the ensuing two decades. Based on relevant research over these two decades we present a revised framework that (1) reflects the complexities of contemporary IS phenomena and (2) can act as an instrument for analysing such phenomena across a spectrum of human activities. We justify the form and content of the Revised Intellectual Structures Framework, providing examples of its application in IS research using appropriate research methods and techniques. We argue that our revisions to the original framework provides individuals, organisations, and societies with a conceptual lens that is necessary to better address the challenges and opportunities posed by the complexities of contemporary digital ecologies.
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