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Seizing the Opportunity: Towards a Historiography of Information Systems


  • Nathalie Mitev

    () (ISIG - Information Systems and Innovation Group - Department of Management - LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • François-Xavier De Vaujany

    () (Management & Organisation - DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris-Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


Historical perspectives are only timidly entering the world of IS research compared to historical research in management or organization studies. If major IS outlets have already published history-oriented papers, the number of historical papers - although increasing - remains low. We carried out a thematic analysis of all papers on History and IS published between 1972 and 2009 indexed on ABI and papers indexed in Google ScholarTM for the same period. We used a typology developed by theorists Usdiken and Kieser (2004) who classify historical organisation research into supplementarist, integrationist and reorientationist approaches. We outline their links with the epistemological stances well known in IS research, positivism, interpretivism and critical research; we then focus on their differences and historiographical characteristics. We found that most IS History papers are supplementarist descriptive case studies with limited uses of History. This paper then suggests that IS research could benefit from adopting integrationist and reorientationist historical perspectives and we offer some examples to illustrate how that would contribute to enriching, extending and challenging existing theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathalie Mitev & François-Xavier De Vaujany, 2012. "Seizing the Opportunity: Towards a Historiography of Information Systems," Post-Print halshs-00671690, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00671690
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chris Caswill & Robin Wensley, 2007. "Doors and boundaries: A recent history of the relationship between research and practice in UK organizational and management research," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(3), pages 293-320.
    2. Page, Scott E., 2006. "Path Dependence," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(1), pages 87-115, January.
    3. Peter Clark & Michael Rowlinson, 2004. "The Treatment of History in Organisation Studies: Towards an 'Historic Turn'?," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 331-352.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Linking History and Management Discourse: Epistemology and Method
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-04-19 18:36:38
    2. Linking History and Management Discourse: Epistemology and Method
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-04-19 18:36:38
    3. Linking History and Management Discourse: Epistemology and Method
      by bbatiz in NEP-HIS blog on 2012-04-19 18:36:38


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    Cited by:

    1. François-Xavier De Vaujany & Nathalie Mitev & Matthew Smith & Isabelle Walsh, 2017. "Renewing Literature Reviews in MIS Research? A Critical Realist Approach," Working Papers hal-01648133, HAL.

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    IS history; historiography; historical methods; historical organization theory;

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