Information System Evaluation through an Emergence Lens


  • Olgerta Tona
  • Sven A. Carlsson


Keywords: Information System evaluation, IS evaluation approaches, fusion view, IS views, relational emergence theory


Abstract: The development and expansion of evaluation theory and practice is at the core of several different disciplines. There exist different traditional Information System (IS) evaluation approaches, like experimental, pragmatic, constructivist, pluralist and realist IS evaluation. IS evaluation approaches are influenced by the way they address to technology. Recently actor network theory (ANT) and sociomateriality are two influential information systems (IS) entanglement perspectives. Additionally, El Sawy identified three faces of IS views: connection, immersion, and fusion. In terms of IS evaluation approaches, connection and immersion view are the dominant views in which these approaches are positioned. We believe the IS fusion view calls for IS evaluation approaches to be revised. This paper uses the relational emergence theory, based on the philosophy of critical realism to theorize and operationalize the fusion view, as it lacks a theoretical grounding and as well to push forward the traditional IS evaluation research approaches. At the core of relational emergence theory is the emergence concept, in which parts are structured by the relations among each other to create an entity as a whole. Based on this, we present and discuss the implications for IS evaluation in terms of how to evaluate a process as well as the output of the process. The discussion on IS evaluation is illustrated through an empirical example, drawn on a longitudinal research study within a police organization. This paper concludes that in the fusion view, the evaluation process shall embrace a holistic perspective. The focus of the evaluation process shall be the emergent entity consisting of IS, users, task and processes structured by means of relationships among each other. The properties exhibited by this emergent entity shall be evaluated.



1 Jun 2013