The Watson (2014) paper offers a conceptual foundation for information systems based upon 3 crucial propositions that the writer claims to be central to our field. The author then applies an evolutionary-historical analysis to the emergence of major information processing capabilities among human beings, tracing the development of information systems in order to establish the previously mentioned propositions. Watson believes that failing to look at the historical emergence of information systems has constrained the discipline’s search for a conceptual foundation. The article then culminates in advancing a case, in which these propositions create a solid enough conceptual foundation for conducting IS research.
One of the interesting distinctions that Watson makes, is that of information systems and information technology (IT), which are for the most part used interchangeably by IS scholars. He believes however, that they are very different in essence and that the latter is simply an instantiation of the former. I think this is one of the significant underlying assumptions that has led past and present scholars of our field to limit IS to the boundaries that Watson so sharply criticizes and fervently attempts to decry.
As enthralling as it seems to position IS akin to mathematics (as proposed by the author) in that it provides a cross-functional set of general knowledge to address particular domain problems, I speculate (no matter how optimistic I try to be) that it would be virtually impossible to claim that much academic and intellectual territory at least in the short run to medium term, simply due to a lack of a concerted and serious-enough effort by the IS community, and more importantly because of the historically limited focus of the discipline which has subsequently led to the current state of the field through path dependency and thus renders moot any naïve metamorphosis prescription.