References on Critical Research


Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Critical Research

Section Editor: Michael D. Myers

This is a list of references on critical research. After a brief introduction which suggests those works which are essential reading for newcomers to the field, the list is organized into two parts: the first part lists citations related to the approach in Information Systems, the second lists citations related to the approach in other disciplines. Please note that this list contains a few suggestions only and is not intended to be comprehensive. I encourage you to search Google Scholar, the AIS e-library and/or some other bibliographic database for a more complete and up-to-date list.

[Introduction] [Citations in Information Systems] [Citations in Other Disciplines]
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For a general introduction to critical research, the book by Held (1980) is excellent.

A good comparison of positivist, interpretive, and critical research philosophies as they pertain to information systems research is the article by Orlikowski and Baroudi (1991). A more indepth treatment of critical research and its relation to IS research is the article by Ngwenyama (1991). For a more recent treatment of critical research, see the articles by Ngwenyama and Lee (1997) and Richardson and Robinson (2007). The article by Myers and Klein (2011) suggests a set of principles for conducting critical research.

Citations in Information Systems

Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. “Basic assumptions of the critical research perspectives in information systems,” in: Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research: Theory and Application, D. Howcroft and E. Trauth (eds.), Edward Elgar, Aldershot, 2005, pp. 19-46.

Dietz, J.L.G. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. “Speech Acts or Communicative Action?” Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1991, p. 235-248.

Dietz, J.L.G. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. “A comparison of the linguistic theories of Searle and Habermas as a basis for communication support systems,” in Linguistic Instruments in Knowledge Engineering, R. Van der Reit, and R. Meersman, (eds.), North-Holland, New York, 1992, p. 121-130.

Doolin, B. “Power and resistance in the implementation of a medical management information system,” Information Systems Journal (14:4) 2004, pp 343–362.

Doolin, B., and McLeod, L. “Towards critical interpretivism in IS research,” in: Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research: Theory and Application, D. Howcroft and E.M. Trauth (eds.), Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2005, pp. 244-271.

Hirschheim, R. and Klein, H. “Realizing Emancipatory Principles in Information Systems Development: The Case for ETHICS,” MIS Quarterly (18:1), March 1994, pp.83-109.

Klein, H. and Hirschheim, R. “The Application of Neohumanist Principles in Information Systems Development,” in Human, Organizational, and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development, Avison, D, Kendall, J.E. and DeGross, J.I. (eds.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 263-280.

Kvasny, L., and Keil, M. “The challenges of redressing the digital divide: a tale of two US cities,” Information Systems Journal (16) 2006, pp 23-53.

Kvasny, L., and Richardson, H. “Critical research in information systems: looking forward, looking back,” Information Technology & People (19:3) 2006, pp 196-202.

Lyytinen, K. “Information systems and critical theory,” in Critical Management Studies, M. Alvesson, and H. Willmott (eds.), Sage Publications, London, 1992, pp. 159180.

Lyytinen, K., and Hirschheim, R. “Information systems as a rational discourse: an application of Habermas’ theory of communicative action,” Scandinavian Journal of Management Studies (4:1-2) 1988, pp 19-30.

Lehtinen, E., and Lyytinen, K. “Action based model of information system,” Information Systems (2:4), 1986, pp. 299317.

Lyytinen, K. and Ngwenyama, O.K. “What does computer support for cooperative work mean? A structurational analysis of computer supported cooperative work,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (2:1), 1992, pp. 19-37.

Madsen, K.H. “Breakthrough by Breakdown,” in Information Systems Development for Human Progress in Organizations , H.K. Klein and K. Kumar (eds.), 1989, pp. 41-53.

McGrath, K. “Doing critical research in information systems: a case of theory and practice not informing each other,” Information Systems Journal (15) 2005, pp 85-101.

Mingers, J.C. “Towards an Appropriate Social Theory for Applied Systems Thinking: Critical Social Theory and Soft Systems Methodology,” Journal of Applied Systems Analysis (7), 1980, pp. 41-49.

Murray, F. “Techical rationality and the IS specialist: Power, discourse and identity,” Critical Perspectives on Accounting (2) 1991, pp. 5981.

Myers, M.D. “A disaster for everyone to see: an interpretive analysis of a failed IS project,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (4:4), 1994a, pp. 185-201.

Myers, M.D. “Dialectical hermeneutics: a theoretical framework for the implementation of information systems,” Information Systems Journal (5:1), 1995, pp. 51-70.

Myers, M.D. “Critical Ethnography in Information Systems,” in: Information Systems and Qualitative Research, A.S. Lee, J. Liebenau and J.I. DeGross (eds.), Chapman and Hall, London, 1997, pp. 276-300.

Myers, M. D., Klein, H. K., 2011. A Set of Principles for Conducting Critical Research in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly, 35 (1), 17-36.

Myers, Michael D. And Leslie W. Young. “Hidden Agendas, Power, and Managerial Assumptions in Information Systems Development: An Ethnographic Study,” Information Technology & People, (10:3), 1997, pp. 224-240.

Abstract: A number of researchers have drawn attention to the way in which information systems development is an inherently political activity. This paper, using the critical social theory of Jurgen Habermas, discusses the development of an information system in mental health. Using critical ethnography, the authors revealed otherwise hidden agendas, power, and managerial assumptions to be deeply embedded in the project. This study raises broader questions about the extent to which information systems can be seen as “colonizing mechanisms”.

Ngwenyama, O.K. “The Critical Social Theory Approach to Information Systems: Problems and Challenges,” in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 267-280.

Ngwenyama, O.K. and Lee, A.S. “Communication Richness in Electronic Mail: Critical Social Theory and the Contextuality of Meaning,” MIS Quarterly (21:2), 1997, pp. 145-167.

Orlikowski, W.J. “Integrated Information Environment or Matrix of Control? The Contradictory Implications of Information Technology,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (1:1), 1991, pp. 9-42.

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

Ravishankar, M.N., Pan, S.L., and Myers, M.D. 2013. “Information Technology Offshoring in India: A Postcolonial Perspective,” European Journal of Information Systems (22:4), pp. 387-402.

Richardson, H., and Robinson, B. “The mysterious case of the missing paradigm: a review of critical information systems research 1991-2001,” Information Systems Journal (17:3) 2007, pp 251-270.

Schultze, U. “Investigating the contradictions in knowledge management,” in: Information Systems: Current Issues and Future Changes, T.J. Larsen, L. Levine and J.I. DeGross (eds.), International Federation of Information Processing, Laxenburg, 1988, pp. 155-174.

Schultze, U., and Boland, R.J.J. “Knowledge management technology and the reproduction of knowledge work practices,” Journal of Strategic Information Systems(9) 2000, pp 193-212.

Truex, D., and Howcroft, D. “Critical Analyses of ERP Systems: The Macro Level (1),” The Database for Advances in Information Systems (32:4) 2001, pp 13-18.

Wynn, E and Hult, H.V. Qualitative and Critical Research in Information Systems and Human Computer Interaction, now Publishers, Hanover, MA, USA, 2019.

Young, M.-L., Kuo, F.-y., and Myers, M.D. 2012. “To Share or Not to Share: A Critical Research Perspective on Knowledge Management Systems,” European Journal of Information Systems (21:5), pp. 496-511.

Citations in Other Disciplines

Alvesson, M., and Willmott, H. (eds.). Critical Management Studies, Sage Publications, London, 1992a.

Alvesson, M., and Willmott, H. (eds.), “On the idea of emancipation in management and organization studies,” Academy of Management Review (17:3) July 1992b, pp. 432-464.

Broadbent, J., Laughlin, R. and Read, S. “Recent Financial and Administrative Changes in the NHS: A Critical Theory Analysis,” Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2, 1991, pp. 1-29.

Feenberg, A. Critical Theory of Technology. Oxford University Press, New York, 1991.

Forester, John. “Critical ethnography: on field work in an Habermasian way,” in Critical Management Studies, M. Alvesson, and H. Willmott (eds.), Sage Publications, London, 1992, pp. 46-65.

Foucault, M. The Archaeology of Knowledge, Tavistock, London, 1972.

Giddens, A. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structure, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1984.

Habermas, J. The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalization of Society, Vol. 1, T. McCarthy (tr.), Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1984.

Held, D.Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980.

McCarthy, T. The Critical Theory of Jurgen Habermas, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1982.

Thompson, J.B. and Held, D. (eds.). Habermas: Critical Debates, Macmillan, London, 1982.

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