Category Archives: Pragmatist IS Research

General ideas about pragmatist IS research and SIGPrag’s mission.

Workshop Programme and Proceedings

Practice-based Design and Innovation of Digital Artifacts

December 12, 2015, Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Room: Texas Ballroom J Omni
Time: 9 – 17

The workshop has a general orientation towards pragmatic perspectives on information systems. The focus is on “Practice-based Design and Innovation of Digital Artifacts” – i.e. an emphasis on digital artifacts as embedded in social practices. The workshop also emphasizes the innovative nature of designing new artifacts and new practices.

09:00 – 09:15 Introduction
Theme: Researching Practice-based design and Artifact Innovation
09:15 – 10:00 Introducing PADRE – Participatory Action Design Research
Amir Haj-Bolouri, Lennarth Bernhardsson and Matti Rossi
10.00 – 10:30 Closing the Practice Loop – Practice Design Research
Göran Goldkuhl and Jonas Sjöström
10:30 – 10:45 Coffee
10:45 – 11:15 A Design Science Inspired Methodology to Critical Interpretive Research in IS – A Foucauldian Approach
Michael Monson
Theme: Perspectives on Practice and Artifacts
11:15 – 11:45 A review of the Use of Practice Theory in Information Systems Research
Asin Tavakoli and Daniel Schlagwein
11:45 – 12:15 Unpacking the ‘Thing’ in the Internet of Things
Leighton Evans and Brian Donnellan
12:15 – 13:15 Lunch
Theme: Novel Artifacts and Theoretical Propositions
13:15 – 14:00 Supporting Business Model Idea Generation through Machine-generated Ideas – Towards a design theory
Thomas John
14:00 – 14:45 Improving Online Surveys through Respondent Behavior Logging
Hafijur Rahman and Jonas Sjöström
14:45 – 15:00 Coffee
15:00 – 15:45 Novelty in Collective Design Landscapes
Harris Kyriakou and Jeffrey V. Nickerson
15:45 – 16:15 Closing Discussion and AIS SIGPRag Business meeting.

CFP: AIS SIGPRAG Pre-ICIS workshop on”Practice-based Design and Innovation of Digital Artifacts”

December 12, 2015, Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Background – pragmatic perspectives

There have been many calls in the information systems (IS) community for a stronger pragmatic focus. This can be seen in a growing interest for research approaches and methods in IS that emphasize contribution to practice and collaboration between the practice and academia. Action research, which aims for knowledge development through collaboration and intervention in real settings, is achieving more and more academic credibility (Baskerville & Myers, 2004; Davison et al, 2004). This can also be said about design science research that aims for the generation of new and useful artifacts (Hevner et al, 2004; Gregor & Jones, 2007). Research through evaluation has had a long and venerable place in IS research (Ward et, 1996; Serafeimidis & Smithson, 2003). Several approaches and frameworks that combine or integrate elements from the above-mentioned approaches have also emerged, e.g. practice research (Goldkuhl, 2011), collaborative practice research (Mathiassen, 2002), practical science (Gregor, 2008), engaged scholarship (Mathiassen & Nielsen, 2008), action design research (Sein et al, 2011) and technical action research (Wieringa & Morali, 2012). Underlying these different approaches is a quest for practical relevance of the conducted research (Benbasat & Zmud, 1999; Van de Ven, 2007; Wieringa, 2010). It is not enough to only “mirror” the world through descriptions and explanations but a pragmatic orientation recognizes intervention and design as a way of knowing and a means for building knowledge about social and institutional phenomena (Aakhus, 2007). There is a need for knowledge of other epistemic kinds that contributes more clearly to the improvement of IS practices.

A pragmatic orientation can also be seen in the increasing interest in the conceptualization of practices, activities, agency and actions. Practice theorizing has gained an increased attention in IS studies (Orlikowski, 2008; Leonardi, 2011). There has been an interest for agency and action oriented theories in IS for quite some time; e.g. activity theory (Nardi, 1996), structuration theory (Orlikowski, 1992), social action theorizing (Hirschheim et al, 1996), human agency theorizing (Boudreau & Robey, 2005) and language action perspective (Winograd & Flores, 1986). From this follows also an interest for social and pragmatic views of the IT artifact (Aakhus & Jackson, 2005). This includes views of the IT artifact as contextually embedded and carriers of those social contexts (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001) and such artifacts being tools for action and communication (Ågerfalk, 2003; Markus & Silver, 2008). Design research practice and the contributions to practice through appropriation of knowledge and methods and the contributions to academia through knowledge artifacts has been discussed (Donnellan, Sjöström, Helfert, 2012).

This enhanced practice and action orientation follows a growing awareness within IS scholars towards pragmatism as a research foundation (e.g. Goles & Hirschheim, 2000; Ågerfalk, 2010; Goldkuhl, 2012). It is not the case that IS scholars suddenly become pragmatists in their research orientation. It is rather the case that there is move from an implicit pragmatism to an explicit one (Goldkuhl, 2012). For a long time IS scholars have addressed practical problems with an interest for improvement. That interest has led to the extensive development of methods, models and constructive frameworks for not only the design of IT artifacts, but also related to several other IS/IT phenomena like e.g. innovation management, business process management, project management, IT service management just to mention a few. These methods actually reveal an on-going search for knowledge of other epistemic kinds for advancing understanding of information technology, information systems, and practice.

Workshop focus

This AIS SIGPRAG Pre-ICIS workshop has a general orientation towards pragmatic perspectives on IS as described above. The focus is on “Practice-based Design and Innovation of Digital Artifacts”. This means an emphasis on digital artifacts as embedded in social practices and carriers of elements in such practices. It emphasizes also the innovative nature of designing new artifacts and new practices. The workshop acknowledges different sub-themes within this broad workshop theme:

  • Ways to research practice-based design and innovation of digital artifacts
  • Ways to conceptualize and describe practices
  • Ways to conceptualize and describe digital artifacts
  • The processes of innovation and design of digital artifacts and practices

Topics within these sub-themes are described below.

Workshop purpose

This workshop is arranged in the same spirit and a continuation of earlier successful SIGPRAG workshops on “Practice research”, “IT Artifact Design & Workpractice Improvement” and “Action Research & Design Research Integrations”.

This SIGPRAG workshop intends to bring scholars and practitioners together for a knowledge exchange and development on research foundations and practical contributions concerning the design and innovation of digital artifacts and practices. The SIGPRAG workshop is intended to be a developmental arena with thoughtful and constructive feedback from reviews and comments on site. The workshop should be a place where you can present ideas in papers and get fruitful feedback for further development of the papers. A developmental arena means also taking responsibility for pushing contributions further to high-quality journal publications. From earlier SIGPRAG workshops (ADWI-2012, ADWI-2013 and ADWI-2014) several papers have been pushed further into special issues in the open access journal Systems, Signs & Actions. At least one special issue will be arranged in Systems, Signs & Actions inviting promising papers from this SIGPRAG workshop. The theme will be decided on later. We will possibly also work with some other outlet for another special issue. This depends on the outcome of the workshop


The workshop can include papers from diverse fields of IS. Topics following the identified workshop sub-themes are listed below.

Ways to research practice-based design and innovation of digital artifacts; empirical research approaches such as:

  • Practice research
  • Action research
  • Design science research
  • Action design research
  • Case study research
  • Evaluation research
  • Discourse analysis
  • Pragmatic inquiries
  • Practitioner – research collaborations

Ways to research practice-based design and innovation of digital artifacts; knowledge creation approaches such as:

  • Design theory development
  • Method design/refinement
  • Grounded theory development
  • Multi-grounded theory development
  • Practical theory development

Ways to conceptualize and describe practices; for example:

  • Symbolic interaction
  • Language action
  • Socio-materiality
  • Institutionalism
  • Actor-networks
  • Infrastructure evolution
  • Socio-instrumentalism
  • Distributed cognition
  • Distributed agency

Ways to conceptualize and describe digital artifacts; for example:

  • Ensemble view
  • Socio-technical view
  • Contextual view
  • Functional tool view
  • Affordance view
  • Communicative action view

The processes of innovation and design of digital artifacts and practices; for example aspects such as:

  • Innovation strategies
  • Openness in innovation
  • Design thinking
  • Collaborative design
  • Stakeholder interactions (power-playing vs. value balancing and informed consensus building)
  • Practice understanding and diagnosis
  • Wicked problems
  • Problem formulation
  • Values and goals articulation
  • Idea generation
  • Idea capture
  • Design conversations
  • Idea visualization (modeling, prototyping)
  • Strategies for testing and evaluation

Dates and submission details
Submissions: September 30, 2015 October 5, 2015
Notification: October 31, 2015
Final manuscripts: November 30, 2015
Workshop: December 12, 2015

The workshop will follow an ordinary scientific procedure with submission of papers and selection of papers through peer-review (pursued by an international program committee). Papers are expected to be between 5-16 pages. We welcome full research papers as well as shorter papers (work-in-progress or position papers). For submissions we use the EasyChair system (

A format template can be found here.

Workshop proceedings will be electronically published and distributed. There will be a small workshop fee covering catering.

Workshop co-chairs

Brian Donnellan, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland (
Göran Goldkuhl, Linköping University, Sweden (
Jonas Sjöström, Uppsala University, Sweden (
Mark Aakhus, Rutgers University, NJ, USA
Markus Helfert, Dublin City University, Ireland (


AIS Special interest group on Pragmatic IS research (AIS SIGPRAG),

Programme Committee
Michel Avital, Denmark
Richard Baskerville, USA
Mike Chiasson, UK
Rodney Clarke, Australia
Stefan Cronholm, Sweden
Eoin Cullina, Ireland
Ulrich Frank, Germany
Matt Germonprez, USA
Rob Gleasure, Ireland
Shirley Gregor, Australia
Ola Henfridsson, UK
Philip Huysman, Belgium
William Kuechler, USA
Jenny Lagsten, Sweden
Matt Levy, USA
Kalle Lyytinen, USA
Matthew Mullarkey, USA
Matti Rossi, Finland
Mareike Schoop, Germany
Gerhard Schwabe, Switzerland
Christian Tornack, Germany
Roel Wieringa, the Netherlands


Ågerfalk P J (2003) Information Systems Actability: Understanding Information Technology as a Tool for Business Action and Communication, Ph D diss, Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University

Ågerfalk P J (2010) Getting Pragmatic, European Journal of Information Systems, Vol 19 (3), pp 251– 256

Baskerville R, Myers M (2004) Special issue on action research in information systems: making IS research relevant to practice – foreword, MIS Quarterly, Vol 28 (3), p 329-335

Benbasat I, Zmud R W (1999) Empirical research in information system research: The practice of relevance, MIS Quarterly, Vol 23 (1), p 3-16

Boudreau M-C, Robey D (2005) Enacting Integrated Information Technology: A Human Agency Perspective, Organization Science, Vol 16 (1), p 3–18

Davison R M, Martinsons M G, Kock N (2004) Principles of canonical action research, Information Systems Journal, Vol 14, p 65–86

Donnellan B, Sjöström, J, Helfert M (2012) Applying Product Semantics to Design Research, IFIP Working Group 8.2 Conference : Shaping the Future of ICT Research: Methods and Approaches, University of South Florida, Tampa

Goles T, Hirschheim R (2000) The paradigm is dead, the paradigm is dead … long live the paradigm: the legacy of Burell and Morgan, Omega, Vol 28, p 249-268

Goldkuhl G (2011) The research practice of practice research: theorizing and situational inquiry, Systems, Signs & Actions, Vol 5 (1), p 7-29

Goldkuhl G (2012) Pragmatism vs. interpretivism in qualitative information systems research, European Journal of Information Systems, Vol 21 (2), p 135-146

Gregor S (2008) Building theory in a practical science, in Hart D, Gregor S (Eds, 2008) Information Systems Foundations: The role of design science, ANU E Press, Canberra

Gregor S, Jones D (2007) The Anatomy of a Design Theory, Journal of AIS, Vol 8 (5), p 312-335 Hevner A R, March S T, Park J, Ram S (2004) Design science in information systems research, MIS

Quarterly, Vol 28 (1), p 75-115
Hirschheim R, Klein H, Lyytinen K (1996) Exploring the intellectual structures of information systems development: a social action theoretic analysis, Accounting, Management & Information Technology, Vol 6 (1/2), pp. 1-64

Leonardi P (2011) When flexible routines meet flexible technologies: affordance, constraint, and the imbrication of human and material agencies, MIS Quarterly, Vol 35 (1), pp. 147-167

Markus L, Silver M (2008) A foundation for the study of IT effects: A new look at DeSanctis and Poole’s concepts of structural features and spirit, Journal of the AIS, Vol. 9 (10/11), pp 609-632 Mathiassen L (2002) Collaborative practice research, Information Technology & People, Vol 15 (4), p 321-345

Mathiassen L, Nielsen P A (2008) Engaged Scholarship in IS Research. The Scandinavian Case, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol 20 (2), p 3–20

Nardi B A (Ed, 1996) Context and consciousness. Activity theory and human-computer interaction, MIT Press, Cambridge

Orlikowski W J (1992) The Duality of Technology: Rethinking the Concept of Technology in Organizations, Organization Science, Vol 3 (3), p 398-429

Orlikowski W J (2008) Sociomaterial Practices: Exploring Technology at Work, Organization Studies, Vol 28 (9), p 1435–1448

Orlikowski W J, Iacono C S (2001) Desperately seeking the “IT” in IT research – a call to theorizing the IT artifact, Information Systems Research, Vol 12 (2), pp 121-134

Sein M, Henfridsson O, Purao S, Rossi M, Lindgren R (2011) Action design research, MIS Quarterly, Vol 35 (1), p 37-56

Serafeimidis V, Smithson S (2003) Information systems evaluation as an organizational institution – experience from a case study, Information Systems Journal, Vol 13, pp 251–274

Van de Ven A (2007) Engaged scholarship: A guide for organizational and social research, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Ward J, Taylor P, Bond P (1996) Evaluation and realisation of IS/IT benefits: an empirical study of current practice, European Journal of Information Systems, Vol 4, pp 214-225

Wieringa R (2010) Relevance and problem choice in design science, in Winter R, Zhao J L, Aier S (Eds. 2010) Proceedings DESRIST 2010, LNCS 6105, Springer, Berlin

Wieringa R, Morali A (2012) Technical action research as a validation method in information systems design science, Proceedings DESRIST 2012, LNCS 7286, Springer, Berlin

Winograd T, Flores F (1986) Understanding computers and cognition: A new foundation for design, Ablex, Norwood

Pragmatist Information Systems Research

The Special Interest Group on Pragmatist IS Research (SIGPrag) was approved by the Association for Information Systems (AIS) council at its June 2008 meeting in Galway. SIGPrag is a response to a growing recognition of the importance of theorizing the IT artifact and its organizational and societal context from a pragmatic and action-oriented perspective. SIGPrag’s mission is to provide facilitate exchange of ideas and further development of this area of IS scholarship.

Pragmatist IS research rests on the following set of assumptions:

  • Human life is a life of activity.
  • Humans do things that effect changes in their environment and/or within themselves.
  • Doing permeates thinking, conceptualizations and language use.
  • Human consciousness is a practical one that is in constant interplay with interventive, investigative, and evaluative actions.
  • Practical consciousness is formed by experience from previous actions and participationin social contexts.
  • IT and information systems are fundamentally symbolic language systems.
  • Linguistically expressed collective presuppositions, norms and categories (such as thoseembedded in IT and information systems) serve human activity and life.
  • The true value of IT and information systems lies in their potential to support humancommunication and collaboration central to human activity and life.