Gregor (2006) The Nature of Theory in Information Systems


The aim of this research is to examine the structural essay nature of theory in Information Systems. Despite the impor tance of theory, questions relating to its form and structure are neglected in comparison with questions relating to episte mology. The essay addresses issues of causality, explanation, prediction, and generalization that underlie an understanding of theory. A taxonomy is proposed that classifies information systems theories with respect to the manner in which four central are addressed: goals analysis, explanation, predic tion, and prescription.
Five interrelated types of theory are distinguished: (I) theory for analyzing, (2) theory for ex plaining, (3) theory for predicting, (4) theory for explaining and predicting, and (5) theory for design and action. Examples illustrate the nature of each theory type. The appli cability of the taxonomy is demonstrated by classifying a sample of journal articles. The paper contributes by showing that multiple views of theory exist and by exposing the assumptions underlying different viewpoints. In addition, it is suggested that the type of theory under development can influence the choice of an epistemological approach. Support is given for the legitimacy and value of each theory type. The building of integrated bodies of theory that encompass all theory that encompass all theory types advocated

Citation Shirley Gregor (2006). The Nature of Theory in Information Systems. Management Information Systems Research Center, vol. 30 no. 3, pp. 611–642. PDF

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Gregor, Shirley},
journal = {Management Information Systems Research Center},
number = {3},
pages = {611--642},
title = {{The Nature of Theory in Information Systems}},
volume = {30},
year = {2006}

Key ideas


Tables and figures

Table 1: Table 1 ~ p.613

Table 2: A Taxonomy of Theory Types in Information Systems Research Table 2 ~ p.620