The status of the discipline of information systems

David Avison, Phillip Ein-Dor

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The context of this paper is the recent downturn in information systems (IS) student enrollment which has had negative implications for the academic employment of doctoral students in IS. We regard this downturn as a temporary phenomenon: there have been cycles of enrollments in the past in all disciplines, and these will continue. Indeed, at the time of writing there are signs that the present cycle has bottomed out and student demand for places has increased as the demand for qualified IS people has increased in organizations (albeit with a lag of a few years). This will inevitably lead to an increased demand for our doctoral graduates in universities. Clearly, steps must be taken to minimize such problems in the short term. But in this paper we take a longerterm view. We first examine the status of the discipline of information systems using the cultural web model of Johnson and Scholes (1993). This suggests that there are longer-term problems relating to the status, and therefore the power, of people in the discipline. We must address these underlying problems to ensure there are no similar employment difficulties for our doctoral students in the future. We suggest potential approaches to address the underlying causes of problems revealed using the cultural model. These suggestions include increased representation in formal university power structures, marketing our particular skills and knowledge better both within and external to the university, developing centers of particular IS excellence in our universities, showing how our research is relevant to and can inform other disciplines and being seen as socializing, informating and improving people's work environments and open to different and newer fields of application. But, in particular we argue that independent schools of information systems, information science and the like, might be able to set a more solid footing for information systems people than groups of them in either business schools or computer science and/or engineering departments which are largely their present academic base.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2007
Event28th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2007 - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: 9 Dec 200712 Dec 2007


Conference28th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2007
CityMontreal, QC


  • Cultural web
  • Discipline
  • Doctoral students
  • Information schools
  • Power
  • Status
  • Student enrollment


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