Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Grounded Theory
Section Editor: Michael D. Myers
This is a list of references on grounded theory. 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.
One of the early classics in grounded theory is the book by Glaser and Strauss (1967). More recently, Glaser and Strauss have disagreed about what grounded theory “really” is. One view is represented in the book by Strauss and Corbin (1990); the other is represented in the book by Glaser (1992). A web site devoted to the latter’s view of grounded theory (including more references) is available.
For a good example of grounded theory in IS, see Orlikowski’s (1993) paper. This paper received MIS Quarterly‘s Best Paper Award for 1993. The Sage Handbook on Grounded Theory is a useful resource – Bryant and Charmaz (2007).
Citations in Information Systems
Baskerville, R. and Pries-Heje, J. “Grounded action research: a method for understanding IT in practice,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (9:1), 1999, pp. 1-23.
Bowker, G., Timmermans, S. and Star, S.L. “Infrastructure and Organizational Transformation: Classifying Nurses’ Work,” in Information Technology and Changes in Organizational Work, Orlikowski, W., Walsham, G., Jones, M. and DeGross, J.D. (eds.), London: Chapman and Hall, 1995, pp. 344-370.
De Vreede, G.J., Jones, N. and Mgaya, R. “Exploring the Application and Acceptance of Group Support Systems in Africa,” Journal of Management Information Systems (15:3), 1999, pp. 197-212.
Cross-cultural GSS field studies are scarce. Although the state of knowledge and theory development in this area warrants a focus on descriptive field explorations, most cross-cultural GSS research has taken place in laboratory environments. The study reported here represents the first detailed descriptive field study of GSS application in Africa. A grounded theory approach was used to collect and analyze data on eleven projects in which GSS meetings were organized in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. From the data emerged a model of GSS acceptance in the cultures investigated that extends the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) in terms of a specification of a number of relevant external factors. These factors include the endorsement of top management, computer literacy, oral communication preference, referent power, and satisfaction with use. Furthermore, the findings suggest that there is potential for applying GSS in Africa to support capacity-building efforts, which tops the agenda of international development agencies.
Galal, G.H. and McDonnel, J.T. “Knowledge-Based Systems in Context: A Methodological Approach to the Qualitative Issues,” AI & Society (11), 1997, pp. 104-121.
Hughes, J. and D, H. “Grounded Theory: Never Knowingly Understood,” Information Systems Review (1), 2000, pp. 181-197.
Pace, S. “A grounded theory of the flow experiences of Web users,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (60:3) 2004, pp 327-363.
This paper presents a grounded theory of the flow experiences of Web users engaged in information-seeking activities. The term ‘flow’ refers to a state of consciousness that people experience when their attention is intently focused on an enjoyable activity that is challenging, but achievable. The data that was gathered for this study primarily consisted of semi-structured in-depth interviews with informants of varying gender, age, educational attainments, occupations and Web experience who could recall experiencing flow while using the Web.
Pandit, Maresh R. “The Creation of Theory: A Recent Application of the Grounded Theory Method,” The Qualitative Report, 2(4), 1996.
This paper outlines a particular approach to building theory that was employed in a recent doctoral research project . Three aspects used in conjunction indicate the project’s novelty: firstly, the systematic and rigorous application of the grounded theory method; secondly, the use of on-line computerised databases as a primary source of data; and, thirdly, the use of a qualitative data analysis software package to aid the process of grounded theory building.
Pettigrew, A.M. “Contextualist Research and the Study of Organizational Change Processes”, in Mumford, E., Hirschheim, R., Fitzgerald, G. and Wood-Harper, A.T. (eds.), Research Methods in Information Systems. Amsterdam, North Holland, 1985, pp. 53-78.
PriesHeje, J. “Three barriers for continuing use of computerbased tools: a grounded theory approach,” Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (4), 1992, pp. 119-136.
Smit, J. “Grounded Theory Methodology in IS Research: Glaser versus Strauss,” South African Computer Journal (24:November), 1999, pp. 219-222.
Urquhart, C. “Exploring Analyst-Client Communication: Using Grounded Theory Techniques to Investigate Interaction in Informal Requirements Gathering,” in Information Systems and Qualitative Research, A.S. Lee, J. Liebenau and J.I. DeGross (eds.), Chapman and Hall, London, 1997, pp. 149-181.
Urquhart, C. “Strategies for Conversation and Systems Analysis in Requirements Gathering: A Qualitative View of Analyst-Client Communication,” The Qualitative Report, (4:1-2), 1996,
This paper describes how strategies for conversation and systems analysis may operate in requirements gathering. The emergence of these concepts, whilst using grounded theory techniques to analyse a case study of analyst-client interaction is discussed. The topics of conversation in the case study are analysed and grouped into themes and examined with reference to strategies for conversation and systems analysis. Methodological issues that occur when undertaking qualitative analysis of discourse are also discussed. Finally, some implications for systems analysis practice are outlined.
Urquhart, C. “An Encounter with Grounded Theory: Tackling the Practical and Philosophical Issues,” In Qualitative Research in IS: Issues and Trends, E. Trauth (Ed.), Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, 2001, pp. 104-140.
Urquhart, C., Lehmann, H., Myers, M. D., 2010. Putting the Theory back into Grounded Theory: Guidelines for Grounded Theory Studies in Information Systems. Information Systems Journal, 20 (4), pp. 357-381.
Urquhart, C., and Fernández, W. 2013. “Using Grounded Theory Method in Information Systems: The Researcher as Blank Slate and Other Myths,” Journal of Information Technology (28), pp. 224-236.
Yoong, P. A Grounded Theory of Reflective Facilitation: Making The Transition From Traditional To GSS Facilitation, Unpublished PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 1996.
Citations in Other Disciplines
Annells, M..P. “Grounded Theory Method: Philosophical Perspectives, Paradigm of Inquiry, and Postmodenism,” Qualitative Health Research, 6(3), 1996, pp. 379-393.
The understanding of grounded theory method is partly dependent on an awareness of the method’s ontological, epistemological, and methodological perspectives; the traditional symbolic interactionist theoretical underpinnings; and the identification of the relevant paradigm of inquiry within which the method resides. An analysis of these factors suggests that the grounded theory method has traditionally been sited in a postpositivist inquiry paradigm but is evolving and moving toward the constructivist inquiry paradigm. The suggestion is made that the postmodern status of the method is also evolving.
Annells, M. P. ” Grounded theory method, part 1: within the five moments of qualitative research,” Nursing Inquiry, 4, 1997, pp. 120-129.
While discussing how the grounded theory method has been situated during the five moments of qualitative research history, a detailed analysis is offered of the differences between the classic mode of the method and Strauss and Corbin’s reformulation of the method. Such differences include: philosophical perspectives, paradigm of inquiry, intended product, theoretical underpinnings, procedural steps and claims of rigour. Reasons for Strauss and Corbin’s elaboration of the method are suggested within an historical context.
Annells, M. P. “Grounded theory method, part II; options for users of the method,” Nursing Inquiry, 4, 1997, pp. 176-180.
Era-specific issues are presented for the consideration of the potential grounded theorist. Two of the issues are general to grounded theory method, while the other four assist in clarifying aspects relevant to the selection of a specific mode of the method. Five broad options regarding possible modes of grounded theory method are suggested and detailed. The inquirer is not limited to the two major modes usually presented and discussed in the literature. Users of the method are challenged to continue contributing to the development of the method, while justifying and debating methodological modifications.
Charmaz, K. Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2006.
Corbin, Juliet and Anselm Strauss. “Grounded Theory Research: Procedures, Canons, and Evaluative Criteria,” i> Qualitative Sociology, (13:1), 1990, pp. 3-21.
Dey, I. Grounding grounded theory: guidelines for qualitative inquiry, Academic Press, San Diego, 1999.
Eisenhardt, K.M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research,” Academy of Management Review, (14: 4), 1989, pp. 532-550.
Fendt, J., and Sachs, W. “Grounded Theory Method in Management Research: Users’ Perspectives,” Organizational Research Methods (11:3) 2008, pp 430-455.
Gasser, Les. “The Integration of Computing and Routine Work,” ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, (4:3), 1986, pp. 205-225.
Glaser, Barney G. Theoretical Sensitivity: Advances in the Methodology of Grounded Theory. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press, 1978.
Kendall, J. “Axial Coding and the Grounded Theory Controversy,” Western Journal of Nursing Research (21:6), 1999, pp. 743-757.
Melia, K.M. “Rediscovering Glaser,” Qualitative Health Research (6:3), 1996, pp. 368-373.
Strauss, Anselm. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Strauss A and Corbin J. “Grounded Theory Methodology – An Overview,” In Handbook of Qualitative Research, N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, 1994, pp. 273-285.
Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin (eds.). Grounded Theory in Practice. London: Sage Publications, 1997.