Applying and theorizing institutional frameworks in IS research: A systematic analysis from 1999 to 2009

Purpose – This paper investigates how Information Systems (IS) researchers apply institutional theoretical frameworks. The purpose of this paper is to explore the operationalization of meta-theoretical frameworks for empirical research which can often present difficulties in IS research. The authors include theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects to explore modalities of use and suggest further avenues. Design/methodology/approach – After an overview of institutional concepts, the authors carry out a thematic analysis of journal papers on IS and institutional frameworks indexed in EBSCO and ABI databases from 1999 to 2009. This consists of descriptive, thematic coding and cluster analysis of this textual database, this combined qualitative and quantitative method offers a unique way of analyzing how operationalization is carried out. Findings – The findings suggest three groups of publications which represent different methodological approaches and empirical foci: “descriptive exploratory approaches,” “generalizing approaches,” and “sociological approaches.” The authors suggest that these three groups represent possible patterns of the use of “meta” social theories in IS research, reflecting a search for disciplinary legitimacy. This helps us analyze papers according to how they use and apply theories. The authors identify the “organizing vision” and the regulatory approach as two institutionalist “intermediary” concepts developed by IS researchers. Furthermore, the authors find that institutional theoretical frameworks have been used in “direct,” “intermediary” or “combined” conceptualizations. The authors also confirm the dynamism of the IS institutional research stream, as evidenced by the increase in number of articles between 1999 and 2009, and identify a maturation process of the IS field in investigating a social theory. Originality/value – The evolution the authors identify in the application of institutional theoretical frameworks in the IS field reveals conformity in methodological, theoretical and empirical terms. By identifying these patterns, it becomes possible to understand institutional reasons for their existence and legitimacy; and to propose other avenues of exploration in future IS research, such as combining different theoretical lenses in institutional frameworks. The methodological contribution is to provide an innovative methodology which helps describe categories and levels of institutional theoretical frameworks used, leading to the identification of gaps and proposing further avenues of research.


Applying and theorizing institutional frameworks in IS research: A systematic analysis from 1999 to 2009
Type de publication
Article de revue
Année de publication
Information Technology and People
Soumis le 18 janvier 2019