Association for Information Systems (AIS)
Communications of the AIS
Is the IS discipline a single discipline that focuses on both behavioral (BIS) and technical (TIS) topics, or is it two disciplines split between these orientations? Current opinion emphasizes BIS and reinforces the notion that researchers practice research in disconnected silos as opposed to a relatively continuous web. Such silos do disservice to the diversity of scholarly interests, skew productivity expectations in favor of small subsets of journals that often exclude technical- and decision science-oriented journals, and run the risk of creating self-perpetuating journal groupings. Silos disadvantage IS researchers by making the discipline narrower in comparison to other business disciplines and contradict the nature of IS pedagogy that equally reflects technology and management. We applied social network and cross-citation analyses to a sample of 98 IS journals to examine the cohesiveness of IS and to understand the extent to which boundary-spanning journals maintain scholarly connections between the approaches. Distinguishing between weak and strong ties among journals, we found that a discipline that comprises both BIS and TIS journals is highly cohesive in terms of weaker ties and that many boundary-spanning journals are quite balanced in their citations to and from each orientation. However, we did not find that IS is uniformly cohesive. Even so, our findings imply that IS scholars with different interests can parse out distinct subsets of journals that are central to their interests. We demonstrate as much by examining the most central journals for three examples of IS scholars: those with a strongly behavioral approach, with sociotechnical interests, and with specialized interests, such as medical informatics. The most central journals for these three interests are distinct subsets of the IS discipline.