Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 26 Number 1 2009 pp. 17-47

A Meta-Theory for Understanding Information Systems Within Sociotechnical Systems

Bostrom, Robert P, Gupta, Saurabh, and Thomas, Dominic

ABSTRACT: Information systems (IS) research often attempts to examine and explain how technology leads to outcomes through usage of IS. Although extensive research in this area has resulted in a significant number of theories, limited work has been done on integrating these theories. This paper presents adaptive structuration theory (AST) as a meta-theory for examining IS within an organizational context. The two main contributions of the paper are an understanding of meta-theory's role in IS and building a case for using AST as a meta-theory to (1) provide an overarching perspective for understanding and integrating existing literature and theories, (2) provide a template and set of guidelines for creating better context-specific IS models and theories, and (3) provide a deeper understanding of a theory. Along with discussion of the contributions, we provide examples to guide researchers in applying AST as a meta-theory.

Key words and phrases: adaptive structuration theory, conceptual models, meta-theory, technology-mediated learning, virtual teams