Building Next Generation IS Theories

Schedule and location

Thursday September 27th  -  Friday September 28th.
Aalto University BIZ (Runeberginkatu 22-24, Helsinki)  Chydenia building, room G-111.


Registration is open September 3rd  - September 20th.


Professor Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas Austin


Professor Virpi Tuunainen, Aalto University School of Business, Finland.


Digital technologies such as intelligent and smart devices and processes, augmented reality, virtual reality,  Internet of Things,  block chain technologies  are associated with digitization and disruption of business and social innovation, entrepreneurial processes, products and services that are creating various forms of capital (knowledge, human, social, and financial);  new organizational, network, and community structures;  a new cadre of business models, platforms, social movements, and so on. Digital  transformations and disruptions introduce a variety of new behavioral, social, and economic problems, opportunities, and phenomena. Many leading journals are calling for new theory building. In its forthcoming special issue, MIS Quarterly states, ”We need next-generation theories to understand the new world we face and try to create...We want papers that grapple intellectually with the significant issues and challenges of our time. This does not mean we have a preference for mere novelty. In fact, we seek papers that reflect on older ideas just as much as we seek papers creating new ideas” (see Burton-Jones et al., 2018 Call for papers: Next-Generation Theories

Inspired by the MIS Quarterly call for papers on next generation theorizing, this seminar invites Ph.D. students, postdocs, junior as well as seasoned scholars for rehearsing and practicing theorizing around a significant digital phenomenon, process, problem, or opportunity of their interest.

We will study (1) seminal works as well as  recent contributions on theorizing, (2) discuss exemplar articles that advance theory  in information systems, and (3) advance  theory building through a series of exercises on the participant’s chosen  question/problem/opportunity.

In this course, the participants learn to:

  • Appreciate different ways in which theoretical contributions can be made and presented around digital phenomena
  • Enhance ability to conceptualize and theorize about digital related phenomena
  • Understand how to evaluate pure theory papers for their theoretical contribution



Background  Readings


Identify a journal or conference paper  that you consider advancing new novel theory in the Information Systems field

Corley and Gioia, 2011




Complete Assignment 1 for your chosen theory paper


Read the primary readings and the background reading


 Assignment 1: Complete a matrix for the chosen theory development article

The matrix consists of the following columns: 0) Complete reference, 1) practical problem, 2) theoretical motivation, 3) research question, 4) theory logic including causal mechanisms, or process model, 5) identity and justify novel parts, 6)  theoretical contribution, 7) key theory learning/lessons, 8) weaknesses, 9) remedies for weaknesses.  Send (1) a copy of your chosen article and (2) your matrix to the instructor by Wednesday 9 a.m. September 26 ( Be ready to  present your matrix on September 27.

Detailed Program


Day 1: Theorizing and Writing Theory Papers– Thursday 27 September 2018



Primary Readings

9:30 – 10:30

Writing theory papers

Markus and Robey, 2018 (forthcoming in MISQ)

Barney, 2018

Suddaby et al, 2011

Fiske, 2004

Cornelissen 2017

Weick, that’s moving

Writing Implications



10:30 – 11:00

Coffee break

11:00 – 12:30

Discussion of theory papers (Assignment 1)

12:30 – 13:30


13:30 – 15:00

Theorizing: Developing a Research Question (Assignment 2)


Coffee break

15:30 - 17:00

Theorizing: Developing Nascent Model    (Assignment 3)

Day 2: Advancing Your Nascent Theory– Thursday 27 September 2018



Primary Readings (see above)

9:00 – 10:30

Theory Refinement including Boundaries, Fertility(Assignment 4)


10:30 – 10:45

Coffee break


10:45 – 12:00

Presentations of nascent theories



12:00 – 13:00



13:00 – 13:50

Presentations of nascent theories


13:50- 14:00

Concluding thoughts




Alvesson, M. and Sandberg, J. (2011). Generating research questions through problematization. Academy of Management Review, 36, 2, 247-271.

Baggini, J. (2016). The Edge of Reason. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Barley, S. (2006). When I write my masterpiece: Thoughts on what makes a paper interesting. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 1, 16-20.

Bem, D. (1995), Writing a review article for the psychological bulletin, Psychological Bulletin, 118, 2, 172-177.

Bem, D. (2003). Writing the empirical journal article. In Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (Eds)  (2003). The Compleat Academic: A Practical Guide for the Beginning Social Scientist, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Colquitt, J. and Zapata-Phelan, C. (2007). Trends in theory building and theory testing: A five-decade study of the Academy of Management Journal. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 6, 1281-1303.

Feldman, D. (2004). What are we talking about when we talk about theory? Journal of Management, 30, 5, 565-567.

Gregor, S. (2006). The nature of theory in information systems. MIS Quarterly, 30, 3, 611-642.

Gregor, S. (2017 to appear). On Theory. In R. Galliers and M-K. Stein. The Routledge Companion to Management Information Systems.

Gregor, S. and Hevner, A. (2013). Positioning and presenting design science research for maximum impact, MIS Quarterly, 37, 2, 337-355.

Gregor, S. and Jones, D. (2007). The anatomy of a design theory. Journal of the Association of Information Systems, 8, 5, Article 19, 312-335.

Gregor, S., Müller, O., and Seidel, S. (2013). Reflection, abstraction, and theorizing in design and development research, Proceedings of European Conference on Information Systems, June, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands, 5-8 June.

Jaccard, J. and Jacoby, J. (2010). Theory Construction and Model-Building Skills. New York: The Guilford Press.

Kim, G., Shin, B., Kim, K. K., and Lee, H. G. (2011), IT Capabilities, process-oriented dynamic capabilities, and firm financial performance. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 12, 7, 1.

Komiak, S. and Benbasat, I. (2006). The effects of personalization and familiarity on trust and adoption of recommendation agents. MIS Quarterly, 30, 4, 941-960.

Kuechler, W. and Vaishnavi, V. (2012). A framework for theory development in design science research: Multiple perspectives. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13, 6.

Li, S. and Karahanna, E. (2015). Online recommendation systems in a B2C e-commerce context: A review and future directions. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 16, 2, 2.

Neuman, W. (2006). Social Research Methods Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Paré, G., Trudel, M. C., Jaana, M., & Kitsiou, S. (2015). Synthesizing information systems knowledge: A typology of literature reviews. Information & Management, 52, 2, 183-199.

Peffers, K., Tuunanen, T., Rothenberger, M. and Chatterjee, S. (2007-8). A design science research methodology for information systems research. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24, 3, 45-77.

Rivard, S. (2014). Editor’s comments: The ions of theory construction, MIS Quarterly, 38, 2, ii-xii.

Schultze, U. (2015). Skirting SLR’s language trap: Reframing the ‘systematic’ versus ‘traditional’ literature review opposition as a continuum. Information & Management, 30, 180-184.

Sein, M., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M. and Lindgren, R. (2011). Action design research. MIS Quarterly, 35, 1, 37–56.

Weber, R. (2012). Evaluating and developing theories in the information systems discipline. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13, 1.

Webster, J. and Watson, R. (2002). Analysing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS Quarterly, 26, 2, xiii-xxiii.

Weick, K. (1995). What theory is not, theorizing is, Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 3, 385-390.

Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating both days and completing the assignments: The seminar includes a pre-course assignment and group working on a research proposal. 

Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.