Institute of Information Systems and Marketing (IISM)

Doctoral Course: Foundations of Theory Building in Information Systems Research

  • type: Doctoral Course
  • place:

    KD²Lab, Fritz-Erler-Straße 1-3, 76133 Karlsruhe 

  • start: January 17th-18th 2019
  • lecturer:

    PD Dr. Benjamin Müller

The generation of knowledge can be seen as one of the key contributions of any science.
Consequently, many scholars emphasize the centrality of theories for any scientific endeavor – a
thought widely reflected in many disciplines from the natural to the social sciences. While a
corresponding attention to theoretical work has been at the heart of the Information Systems (IS)
discipline for a long time, the focus on theoretical debates and genuine conceptual contributions
has been picking up recently. This is reflected by a number of journal sections and conference tracks
dedicated to advancing theory and theorizing in IS research just as much as in many authors’
experiences during the review processes of their work.

The course Foundations of Theory Building in Information Systems Research invites participants to
join the ongoing discourse on theories and theorizing in the Information Systems (IS) research
community. It helps participants to build a foundational understanding of what theory and
theorizing are. Through discussions and analyses of foundational theoretical developments in the IS
discipline and some of its main reference disciplines, participants engage with the concept of theory
and advance their skills of building their own theoretical contributions.

The course is designed to achieve the following high-level learning objectives:
(1) Build a foundational understanding of what theory is and what role it plays in research
(2) Become familiar with basic theorizing skills and approaches

In terms of teaching formats, the course uses a mixture of formats and approaches – from
traditional lectures to interactive elements and seminar-style discussions. To make this work,
participants are encouraged to prepare the mandatory readings identified in this syllabus prior to
the start of this class. Through this preparation, most the workload for the course will occur in the
weeks before the actual course date.

Be advised that the course is not intended to be a comprehensive or normative prescription of how
to engage with theory and theorizing in research. It is rather aimed at providing a basic introduction
to theory and theorizing to participants. This, in turn, provides enablement to employ basic theory
and theorizing skills and encouragement to carefully pay attention to participants’ own theoretical
contribution and their engagement with the extant knowledge in the field.