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|Title: ||AN ASSESSMENT OF THE CONTINGENCY THEORY OF MIS|
|Authors: ||Weill, Peter|
Olson, Margrethe H.
|Issue Date: ||Apr-1987|
|Publisher: ||Stern School of Business, New York University|
|Series/Report no.: ||IS-87-31|
|Abstract: ||The purpose of this paper is to define and critique the use of contingency theory in the field of
Management Information Systems (MIS). The existence of such a theory is demonstrated through a
detailed review of the MIS literature. The development of contingency theory in MIS is compared to
the development of Organization Theory. The developments in the two fields have been remarkably
similar and the field of MIS can benefit from the experiences of organization theorists. We argue
that since MIS is at an early stage of development, it is now repeating some of the unproductive
assumptions and lines of development of contingency theory.
The conclusion from this analysis is that the contingency theory implicit in MIS research is
inadequate. Progress in the field has been hampered by the adoption of a naive meta-theory and a
narrow research perspective. This has resulted in highly mixed empirical results, a premature
quantification strategy, and ill-defined concepts of performance and fit.
A series of recommendations for improving the theoretical basis of MIS are given. These
recommendations include relaxing the assumptions that constitute the naive meta-theory of a
contingency theory in MIS. A more subjectivist, less functional, less unreflexive and less
deterministic approach is advocated. In addition, changes in research methodologies are recommended.
An increased emphasis on training in case study methodologies, longitudinal research and
ethnographic approaches is suggested.|
|Appears in Collections:||IOMS: Information Systems Working Papers|
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