Developing Indigenous Theory with Qualitative IS Research

Xiao Xiao, Barney Tan

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In recent years, scholars in the Information Systems (IS) field have been advocating for more efforts in developing indigenous concepts and theories that are specific to the cultural settings that are under-represented in IS literature. While we have witnessed an increasing acceptance of research with such focus within the discipline, discussions on how to develop indigenous theory from a methodological point of view are still scarce. In this chapter, we address this issue and report on our reflections on the following questions: (1) what is indigenous theory development? (2) does indigenous theory development require indigenous research methods that require the localized adaptation of established methodological guidelines? (3) do we need to pay attention to certain aspects of research design when engaging in indigenous theory development? (4) what are some specific considerations in conducting qualitative research that focuses on an indigenous context? Our reflections have resulted in the development of eleven prescriptions spanning different aspects of qualitative research design, which we hope will augment existing foundational knowledge on qualitative research methods and initiate further conversations on indigenous theory development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Qualitative Research Methods for Information Systems : New Perspectives
EditorsRobert M. Davidson
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781802205381
ISBN (Electronic)9781802205398
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Indigenous theory
  • Indigenous context
  • Indigenous theory development
  • Qualitative research
  • Research design
  • Methodological guidelines

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