The Role of Theory Adaptation in the Making of a Reference Discipline

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Information Systems (IS) scholars repeatedly debate the nature of the IS discipline. A series of articles have debated whether the IS field has become a reference discipline. While many scholars have argued this question from a perceptual point of view, we address it by examining the role of theory adaptation in the making of a reference discipline. Based on a review of how the sensemaking theory from organization studies is adapted and used in IS research, we show that papers that adapt and use sensemaking theory as a central construct in the theoretical framework – in other words – engaging in theory adaptation, have a higher probability of being referenced by other disciplines. Finally, we discuss the implications of the manner in which IS scholars borrow theory regarding the IS discipline's prospects of becoming a reference discipline.
TidsskriftInformation and Organization
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)137-149
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2015


  • Reference discipline
  • Theory adaptation
  • Information systems research
  • Sensemaking theory