n South African Computer Journal - Theory-based information systems research : the role of phenomenological hermeneutics : research article

Volume 2004, Issue 33
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



Interpretive methods of research are well established in the field of information systems. In general, however, such research is empirical in nature, relying on the principles of hermeneutics to inform the gathering and interpretation of primary data. Hermeneutics as method, however, has its origins in textual interpretation, and it is thus equally applicable to theory-based research approaches.

The purpose of this paper is to propose that a phenomenological hermeneutic approach can be appropriate for information systems research. In order to demonstrate this, the paper discusses the nature of phenomenological hermeneutics, the use of hermeneutics as method and the application of hermeneutics to a particular area of IS research, namely IS evaluation. The intention is to demonstrate that useful insights into a real world problem can be gained through the interpretation of appropriate theory and secondary data.
A theory-based approach must, however not only be shown to be possible, but must, if it is to be useful within the discipline, have some criteria for evaluation of the approach itself. The paper therefore proceeds to propose some criteria for the assessment of theory-based phenomenological hermeneutic studies, which are based on existing criteria for the evaluation of hermeneutic studies.

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