Klein & Myers (1999) A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in ...

A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems
Klein, Heinz K. and Myers, Michael D.

Abstract

This article discusses the conduct and evaluation of interpretive research in information systems. While the conventions for evaluating information systems case studies conducted according to the natural science model of social science are now widely accepted, this is not the case for interpre- tive field studies. A set of principles for the con- duct and evaluation of interpretive field research in information systems is proposed, along with their philosophical rationale. The usefulness of the principles is illustrated by evaluating three published interpretive field studies drawn from the IS research literature. The intention of the paper is to further reflection and debate on the important subject of grounding interpretive research methodology.

Citation Heinz K. Klein, Michael D. Myers (1999). A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems. MIS Quarterly, vol. 23 no. 1, pp. 67–93. URL

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

@article{klein1999principles,
author = {Klein, Heinz K. and Myers, Michael D.},
doi = {10.1016/j.egypro.2011.02.243},
issn = {18766102},
journal = {MIS Quarterly},
number = {1},
pages = {67--93},
title = {{A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems}},
url = {http://www.jstor.org/stable/249410},
volume = {23},
year = {1999}
}

Key ideas

The scope of this paper is limited to addressing the quality standards of only one type of interpretive research, namely, the interpretive field study. The set of principles proposed in this paper is derived primarily from anthropology, phenomenology,and hermeneutics.

Notes

The Nature of Interpretive Research

Generally speaking, IS research can be classified as positivist if there is evidence of formal propositions, quantifiable measures of variables, hypothesis testing, and the drawing of inferences about a phenomenon from a representative sample to a stated population (p.69)

IS research can be classified as critical if the main task is seen as being one of social critique whereby the restrictive and alienating conditions of the status quo are brought to light. Critical research seeks to be emancipatory in that it aims to help eliminate the causes of unwarranted alienation and domination and thereby enhance the opportunities for realizing human potential (p.69)

IS research can be classified as interpretive if it is assumed that our knowledge of reality is gained only through social constructions such a language, consciousness, shared meanings, documents, tools, and other artifacts. (p.69)

A Set of Principles for Interpretive Field Research

The authors propose a set of “general” principles for the evaluation of interpretive field research in information systems

1. The Fundamental Principle of the Hermeneutic Circle
  • (p.71)
2. The Principle of Contextualization
  • (p.73)
3. The Principle of Interaction ~ between researcher(s) and their subjects
  • (p.74)
4. The Principle of Abstraction and Generalization
  • (p.75)
5. The Principle of Dialogical Reasoning
  • This principle requires the researcher to confront his or her preconceptions (prejudices) that guided the original research design (p.76)
  • “Prejudice” or prejudgement or prior knowledge plays an important part in our understanding
  • “Prejudice” or prejudgement is seen as a source of bias and therefore a hindrance to true knowledge
  • Hermeneutics recognizes that prejudice is the necessary starting point of our understanding
6. The Principle of Multiple Interpretations
  • Human actions are conditioned by a social context involving multiple agents (p.77)
7. The Principle of Suspicion

Tables and figures

Table 1: Summary of Principles for Interpretive Field Research Table 1 ~ p.72


Table 2 Table 2 ~ p.80


Table 3 Table 3 ~ p.85


Figure 1 Figure 1 ~ p.86

Keywords:

Case Study Research, Design Science, INF6001W, IS research methodologies, case study, critical perspective, ethnography, field study, hermeneutics, interpretivist perspective

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