IS Theories


Degree Course PhD
Lecturer Prof. Dorothy Leidner, PhD, 
Ferguson Professor of Information Systems,
 Baylor University, Waco Texas
Contact hours per week 2
Grading Project, class discussion, and discussion leader (see below)
ECTS n.a.
Language of instruction English
Room L 15,16 room 715
Time Weekly, from Wednesday, September 10 to October 15, from 9-12 (see below for details)
Registration Until September 3, via
Office hours by appointment

Course Overview

This course is designed to provide doctoral students across different disciplines a broad introduction to key theories and their application in IS research. The theories themselves come from a variety of disciplines including management, psychology, communication and sociology. The course is designed for both information systems (IS) and non-IS Ph.D. students. The readings in the course will deepen the students’ understanding of the role of theory in understanding IT related organizational phenomenon and enhance their ability to theorize about IT related to their own various research themes.

Course Objectives

1. To understand the theories used and generated by IS research

2. To become familiar with some of the more important past and current research that has been undertaken within the information systems discipline;

3. Have a broad foundation of knowledge of the theories associated with IS research on which to build in your own future research;

4. Develop an appreciation for the diversity of research currently being undertaken within the information systems discipline;

5. To learn to evaluate critically information systems research.

Course Grade

The grade will be based upon class discussion, upon leading the discussion of one of the articles, and upon a single individual project.

30% - Project (due two weeks after the last class session)
50% - Class Discussion
20% - Discussion Leader

Course/Class Organization - Our Approach

This course will be driven by discussion and as such you are expected to come prepared to each class. Each of you should come to class having read and thought about the articles/readings for the week. On the first day of class, each student will volunteer to lead the discussion on one reading of their choice from the readings for the 2nd through 6th class sessions.

The purpose of the classes is to discuss what you have learnt from the readings - both assigned and otherwise and to clarify points you did not understand. My role (as instructor) will be to ensure that the key points have been identified and understood and to keep the discussion moving.

Just for purposes of describing each class layout, we are assuming each three-hour class Normally, there will be 3-5 assigned readings per week. These assigned readings are the bare minimum - as we indicated above, we expect you to be reading and contributing to the class several articles in addition to those assigned.

You are expected to attend all the classes and be prepared with each reading.


The final project requires that each student discuss a theory not already covered in the class, describe the theory (a single page or two should suffice) and then describe at least 3 articles in applied the theory to an organizational research project. Your analysis should conclude with some idea for how the theory could either be further refined or applied to some other area within IS. You will turn in a 3-5 page report that includes the description of the theory (along with the original reference) and the description of the articles you have found using the theory (along with the references) and the conclusion (your ideas about further improving the theory or applying it in IS). You are also to turn in the articles themselves. The project is to be emailed to me at

We will also discuss this project on the first day of class to clarify any questions.


Session 1: Structuration Theory

Wednesday September 10

Orlikowski, W. and Robey, D., "Information Technology and the Structuring of

Organizations", Information Systems Research, 2(2), June, 1991, pp.143-169.

DeSanctis, Gerardine, and M. Scott Poole, "Capturing the Complexity in Advanced Technology Use: Adaptive Structuration Theory,” Organization Science, 5(2), 1994, 121-147.

Silva, L. and R. Hirschheim, "Fighting Against Windmills: Strategic Information Systems and Organizational Deep Structures,” MIS Quarterly, 21:2, 2007, 327-354.

Jones, M. and H. Karsten, "Giddens’s Structuration Theory and Information Systems Research,” MIS Quarterly, 32:1, 2008, 127-158.


Session 2: Institutional, Governance, and Implementation Theories

Wednesday, September 17

Bala, H. and V. Venkatesh, "Assimilation of Interorganizational Business Process Standards,” Information Systems Research, 18:3, 2007, 340-362.

Liang, H., N. Sharaf, Q. Hu, and Y Xue, "Assimilation of Enterprise Systems: The Effect of Institutional Pressures and the Mediating Role of Top Management,” MIS Quarterly, 31:1, 2007. 59-87.

Xuo, Y., H. Liang, and W. Boulton, "Information Technology Governance in Information Technology Investment Decision Processes: The Impact on Investment Characteristics, External Environment, and Internal Context,” MIS Quarterly, 32:1, 2008, 67-96.

Kirsch, L, "Deploying Common Systems Globally: The Dynamics of Control,” Information Systems Research, 15:4, 2004, 374-395.

Lapointe, L. and S. Rivard, "A Triple Take on Information System Implementation,” Organization Science, 18:1, 2007, 89-107.

Rajiv Sabherwal and Daniel Robey: "An Empirical Taxonomy of Implementation Processes Based on Sequences of Events in Information System Development," Organization Science (4:4), November 1993, pp. 548-576.


Session 3: Theories of Innovation Diffusion and IT Adoption

Wednesday, October 1

E. Burton Swanson: "Information Systems Innovation among Organizations," Management Science (40:9), September 1994, pp. 1069-1092.

Varun Grover, Kirk. D. Fiedler, James T.C. Teng, "Empirical Evidence on Swanson's Tri-Core Model of Information Systems Innovation", Information Systems Research, Vol.8, No.3, 1997, pp.273-288.

Swanson, E. B. and N. C. Ramiller, "Innovating Mindfully with Information Technology, MIS Quarterly, 28:4, 2004, 553-584.

Devaraj, S., R. Easley, J. Crant, "Does Personality Matter? Relating the Five-Factor Model to Technology Acceptance and Use,” Information Systems Research, 19:1, 2008, pp. 93-105.

Venkatesh, V., M. Morris, G. Davis, and F. Davis, "User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified Model,” MIS Quarterly, 27:3, 2003, 425-478.


Session 4: Communication Theories

Wednesday, October 22

Kock, N., "The Psychobiological Model: Towards a new Theory of Computer-Mediated Communication Based on Darwinian Evolution,” Organization Science, 15:3, 2004, 327-348.

Ojetanki K. Ngwenyama and Allen S. Lee: "Communication Richness in Electronic Mail: Critical Social Theory and the Contextuality of Meaning," MIS Quarterly (21:2), June 1997, pp. 145-167.

Mannheim, M. and F. Belanger, "Communication Media Repertoires: Dealing with the Multiplicity of Media Choices,” MIS Quarterly, 31:2, 2007, 267-294.

Carlson, J. and R. Zmud, "Channel Expansion Theory and the Experiential Nature of Media Richness Perceptions,” The Academy of Management Journal, 42:2,1999, 153-170.


Session 5: Resource-Based and Knowledge-Based Theories of the Firm

Wednesday, November 5

Mata, F., W. Fuerst, and J. Barney, "Information Technology and Sustained Competitive Advantage: A Resource-Based Analysis,” MIS Quarterly, 19:4, 1995, 487-506.

Wade, M. and J. Hulland, "The Resource-Based View and Information Systems Research: Review, Extension, and Suggestions for Future Research,” MIS Quarterly, 28:1, 2004, 107-142.

Jarvenpaa, S. and Leidner, D., "An Information Company in Mexico: Extending the Resource-Based View of the Firm to a Developing Country Context” Information Systems Research, December 1998, pp. 342-361.

Pan, S, G. Pan, and D. Leidner, ""Developing Capabilities in Response to Rare Events: Lessons from SARS and Asian Tsunami Disasters” working paper, 2008.

Nahapiet, J. and S. Ghoshal, "Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage,” Academy of Management Review, 23:2, 1998, 242-267.

Grant, R.M., "Knowledge, Strategy and the Theory of the Firm,” Strategic Management Journal, 17:S2, 1996, 109-122.

Schultze, U. and W. Orlikowski, "A Practice Perspective on Technology-Mediated Relations: The Use of Internet-Based Self-Serve Technologies,” Information Systems Research, 15:1, 2004, 87-106.


Session 6: Virtual Organizational Theories and Process Theory

Wednesday, November 19

O’Leary, M. and J. Cummings,” The Spatial, Temporal, and Configurational Characteristics of Geographic Dispersion in Teams,” MIS Quarterly, 31:3, 2007, 433-452.

Cramton, C., "The Mutual Knowledge Problem and its Consequences for Dispersed Collaboration,” Organization Science, 12:3, 2001, 346-371.

Kanawattanachai, P. and Y. Yoo, "The Impact of Knowledge Coordination on Virtual Team Performance over Time,” MIS Quarterly, 31:4, 2007, 783-807.

Olivera, F., P. Goodman, and S. Tan,”Contribution Behaviors in Distributed Environments,” MIS Quarterly, 32:1, 2008, 23-42.

Sabharwal, Rajiv, and Dan Robey, "Reconciling Variance and Process Strategies for Studying Information Systems Development,” Information Systems Research, 6(4), 1996, 303-327.

Clark, T., M. Jones, and C. Armstrong,” The Dynamic Structure of Management Support Systems: Theory Development, Research Focus, and Direction,” MIS Quarterly, 31:3, 2007, 579-615