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Business Information Systems Seminars

The Discipline of Business Information Systems seminar organiser is Sebastian Boell.

Upcoming Seminars


31st Aug 2016 - 10:00 am

Venue: Room 5040, Abercrombie Building (H70)

Speaker: Robert Johnston, University of Sydney Business School

Title: Performing Research Validity: A Mangle of Practice Approach

Abstract: Mainstream discussions of research validity (truth, objectivity, significance) draw heavily on a certain ‘representational idiom’ of science that assumes a knowledge-reality correspondence. However, for research on practices, rather than nature, such a knowledge-reality distinction is neither feasible nor desirable, as it is at odds with the very notion of a ‘practice’. Pickering (1995) gave an alternative account of scientific practice as a struggle between human and material agency involving repeated episodes of resistance and accommodation, dubbed the ‘mangle of practice’. Drawing on this alternative ‘performative idiom’ for science, and extending it to participatory forms of social research, I propose alternative validity claims for practice-oriented research. Using the example of information infrastructuring practices, I show that the three aspects of validity thus reinterpreted become quite closely related to each other and also to the process of information infrastructuring itself. In so doing, I demonstrate the importance of extending the notion of material agency to embrace the dual agencies of the focal practices studied and the researcher’s own disciplinary practice. Formulating validity claims using Pickering’s performative idiom allows research validity in social and physical science to be discussed on a common basis, since no assumption of scientific realism is made.

Bio: Robert Johnston is Professor of Business Information Systems at the University of Sydney Business School, an adjunct professor in the Faculty of IT at Monash University and professor emeritus at University College Dublin. His main research areas are IT-enabled organizational innovation, supply chain and operations management, inter-organisational information systems and theoretical foundations of IS. He has over 150 refereed publications, many in leading international journals, including Information Systems Research, Management Science, European Journal of Information Systems, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Electronic Markets, Journal of the Operational Research Society, OMEGA, International Journal of Production Economics, and Supply Chain Management. Before becoming an academic he spent 13 years as an IT practitioner.