On the Usage of Theories in the Field of Wirtschaftsinformatik - A Quantitative Literature Analysis

Constantin Houy; Johannes Frank; Tim Niesen; Peter Fettke; Peter Loos

Institute for Information Systems (IWi) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Publications of the Institute for Information Systems (IWi) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) (IWi-Heft), Vol. 198, 12/2014.


The development of theories is a central goal of every scientific discipline. Hence, theory development is also of considerable importance to the field of Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI), which seeks to progress as a scientific discipline. WI is the discipline focussing on research and design of information systems conducted by the German-speaking community. WI has slightly different objectives, focusses on different methods and different desired results compared to the Anglo-American Information Systems (IS) research discipline. Although both disciplines deal with information systems as their main research object, Mertens et al. (2014) propose to consider both disciplines as half-sister disciplines (in German: Halbschwesterdisziplinen). Against the background of the growing importance of theory development in WI, a lot of WI research contributions use and reference existing theories and theoretical models for different purposes, e.g. to derive and test hypotheses or to justify design decisions in the context of information systems’ design and development. Often, these theories originate from related scientific disciplines like economics or psychology. However, as it is still not clear which theories are of particular importance to WI research, this report aims at presenting a detailed analysis of the current usage of theories in WI and addresses the following research questions: Which theories are used in WI research and where do they originate from? and How has the usage of theories developed over time? These questions were examined based on a systematic analysis of a broad amount of scientific literature. Thus, this report is supposed to make a contribution to the ongoing discussion on the theoretical foundations of WI. Our analysis shows that 1,160 WI articles from 2000 to 2011 do, in large part, reference the same theories as Anglo-American Information Systems (IS) research. These findings are discussed and implications are highlighted.


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Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence