This paper propose that IS researchers theorize specifically about IT artifacts and incorporate these theories explicitly into their studies.
Motivation: the field of IS has not deeply engaged its core subject matter – IT artifact.
Based on the coding of the 188 articles published in the past decade of ISR, the author identified 14 specific conceptualizations of information technology, and then cluster them into Five broad metacategories:
- Tool view of technology – what technology is and means
- Technology as labor substation tool
- Technology as productivity tool
- Technology as information processing tool
- Technology as social relations tool
- Proxy view of technology
- Technology as perception
- Technology as diffusion
- Technology as capital
- Ensemble view of technology
- Technology as development project
- Technology as production network
- Technology as embedded system
- Technology as structure
- Computational View of technology
- Technology as algorithm
- Technology as model
- Nominal View of technology: technology as absent
Five promises to theorize about IT artifacts:
- IT artifacts are not natural, neutral, universal, or given.
- IT artifacts are always embedded in some time, place, discourse, and community.
- IT artifacts are usually made up of a multiplicity of often fragile and fragmentary components, whose interconnections are often partial and provisional, and which require bridging, integration, and articulation in order for them to work together.
- IT artifacts are neither fixed nor independent, but they emerge from ongoing social and economic practices.
- IT artifacts are not static or unchanging but dynamic.