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A Meta-Theory for Understanding Systems within Socio-Technical Systems

Robert Bostrom, University of Georgia
saurabh gupta, University of North Florida
Dominic Thomas, Emory University


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.

Suggested Citation

Robert Bostrom, saurabh gupta, and Dominic Thomas. "A Meta-Theory for Understanding Systems within Socio-Technical Systems" Journal of Management Information Systems 26.1 (2009): 17-47.