Information systems research methodology curricula.
The academic discipline of Information Systems (IS) is relatively young and its history is sprinkled with debates about identity and various quests to differentiate itself from related disciplines. Research in IS reflects these diverse quests, with a historically dominant quantitative tradition and an emerging qualitative and critical research paradigm. The formal research preparation of IS students is the phenomenon of interest, viewed from a curriculum perspective. This study explores intended and enacted research methodology (RM) curricula at the postgraduate level in South African public universities. The study is located in the interpretivist paradigm and was conducted in three phases. The first phase, comprising document analysis of formal handbook entries and module outlines, informed phase two, which was an eight week online virtual focus group discussion involving 12 RM lecturers across eight universities. The third phase involved site visits to two purposively selected, contrasting cases of RM curricula and included seminar observations, interviews and material analysis. An analytical framework, based on the curriculum analysis work of Lattuca and Stark (2011) and Posner (2004), informed analysis of the data. Content and thematic analysis of intended RM curricula yielded key themes which informed the analysis of cases. These themes are paradigmatic orientation, pedagogical orientation, linkage of the RM module to the research project and stakeholder orientation. Additional themes, namely, lecturer identity and the disciplinary identity of IS, were identified in the analysis of cases and emerged as key constructs in explaining the diversity of RM curricula in IS. Specific instantiation of a curriculum is conceptualized as a product of the interactions between the relative agency of the identities of the RM lecturer and the disciplinary culture. A model (identities in dialogue) and a matrix (RM structure-agency) have been developed to depict the specific RM curriculum identity produced through the interactions between the components of the constructs RM lecturer identity and discipline identity. The thesis thus build new theory, drawing from the case data to illustrate the explanatory power of the model and matrix. Furthermore, the thesis argues for the influential role of RM curricula in shaping research choices and the resultant influence on the evolving identity of IS as a discipline.
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