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Kasper Zülow

Fitzgerald: Towards dissolution of the IS research debate from polarization to polarity

In “Towards dissolution of the IS research debate from polarization to polarity,” Fitzgerald (2003) addresses the longstanding debate in the Information Systems (IS) field between positivist and interpretive paradigms. The author argues that this debate has hindered progress in the field and proposes a new approach that moves away from polarization and towards embracing multiple perspectives.

The paper begins by providing an overview of the debate between positivism and interpretivism in the IS field, highlighting the limitations of each approach. Positivism is criticized for its focus on objective, quantifiable data and its failure to account for subjective experiences and social contexts. Interpretivism, on the other hand, is criticized for its lack of rigor and its focus on subjective experiences at the expense of objective analysis.

The author proposes a new approach based on the concept of polarity, which recognizes that complex phenomena often involve multiple and contradictory perspectives. This approach emphasizes the need to embrace multiple perspectives and to find ways to reconcile seemingly contradictory viewpoints. The author argues that this approach can help to break down the polarization between positivism and interpretivism and enable researchers to address complex and multifaceted issues in the IS field.

The paper provides several examples of how the polarity approach can be applied in the IS field, including the study of IT implementation in organizations and the use of information systems in healthcare. The author emphasizes the importance of recognizing the limitations of both positivism and interpretivism and finding ways to integrate multiple perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of complex phenomena.

Overall, the author’s approach provides a useful framework for addressing the longstanding debate in the IS field between positivism and interpretivism. By embracing multiple perspectives and finding ways to reconcile seemingly contradictory viewpoints, researchers can make progress towards a more holistic understanding of complex issues in the field.

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Kasper Riis Zülow