THREE PAPERS THAT OPEN THIS ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL, and its fifteenth annual volume, address cognitive aspects of information systems development. In the first of them, K.D. Schenk, Nicholas P. Vitalari, and K. Shannon Davis investigate what sets apart expert systems analysts from their novice counterparts. The proper and creative analysis of information systems requirements is, as we know well, a crucial determinant of the system's success (or failure). The authors find a rich set of qualitative distinctions in the cognitive operation of the novices as compared with the experienced analysts. Their paper clearly generates not only a set of results and an agenda for further research, but also a specific program for analyst training.
Teresa M. Shaft and Iris Vessey study the relevance of the knowledge of the application domain to programmers' performance. The authors find that this knowledge is indeed important. By implication, this is particularly so during system maintenance, and the results are directly applicable to the massive maintenance work resulting from the Y2K and the euro issues. Especially in the work on the second of the massive problems, it might be dangerous indeed to use programmers who are only somewhat familiar with the application domain.
In the third paper of the series, Janette W. Moody, J. Ellis Blanton, and Paul H. Cheney find that the cognitive interview offers a set of advantages during the requirements-elicitation phase of system development as compared with more traditional interviewing techniques. Perhaps the time has come to include this technique in the analyst's toolbox.
The theme of software requirements determination is continued in the next paper. Rosalie Ocker, Jerry Fjermestad, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, and Kenneth Johnson study experimentally how the mode of communication adopted by a group that is determining system requirements affects the quality of the solution and the analysis process. Among the four modes investigated, the one combining face-to-face interaction with asynchronous computer conferencing is found to have the most advantages.
Computer-mediated communication is the subject of the next work as well, by Bernard C.Y. Tan, Kwok-Kee Wei, Richard T. Watson, and Rita M. Walczuch. The paper presents a cross-national study investigating the influence of group support system use on the status effects for two different task types. The researchers find that the status effect is reduced when the computerized medium is used, although the status influence is more persistent in the culture with a higher power distance.
Two subsequent studies deal with software systems. Qing Hu, Robert Plant, and David B. Hertz propose a theoretical model for software costs estimation based on treating software development as an economic production process. When applied to a limited previously published data set, the technique shows advantages compared with almost all recognized estimation techniques (and is comparable to one of them). The method is interesting and certainly warrants further investigation.
Alfred Taudes offers an option-pricing approach to the valuation of the flexibility of an MIS platform. The work represents a new approach to a problem that has become increasingly important as organizations seek an information system platform that can be relatively easily retargeted at new competitive opportunities or threats.
Similar in general flavor to the immediately preceding work is the novel approach to MIS-enabled business process reengineering offered by Levent V. Orman. The author proposes the use of decision models to gauge the organizational impact of a given information technology initiative and to select the reengineering effort that would best use the potential of information technology.
In the closing paper of the issue, James Y.L. Thong and Chee-Sing Yap test the applicability to the MIS domain of a theory of ethical decision making that has been developed by the marketing discipline. This perhaps most comprehensive theory in the management-related fields is only partly tested here. However, the results obtained by applying the theory to the perennial issue of softlifting show the applicability of the theory in our field and should certainly encourage further investigation of what may emerge as the encompassing theory in the ethical domain of MIS.
As we open the fifteenth year of our publication, it gives me great pleasure once again to thank our Editorial Board, authors, readers, and the entire MIS community for their contributions and support. Particular thanks go to the Journal's reviewers, the primary guarantors of its quality.
Key words and phrases : creativity in problem solving , information requirements , information systems development , novice and expert problem-solving , systems analysis , systems analyst educationKey words and phrases: creativity in problem solving, information requirements, information systems development, novice and expert problem-solving, systems analysis, systems analyst education