The Path Biography Methodology: Analyzing Self-Reinforcing Mechanisms on Technical and Organizational Levels

Matthias Wenzel, Daniel Fürstenau, Thomas Schmidt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


While studies on self-reinforcing mechanisms in information systems (IS) research rely on methodologies that focus on the technical level without fully accounting for such effects on the organizational level, management research relies on methodologies that concentrate researchers’ efforts on the organizational level. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Path Biography Methodology, a qualitative approach that helps researchers capture and analyze self-reinforcing mechanisms on and between technical and organizational levels. By synthesizing insights from IS and management research, we develop four principles that researchers should consider when applying the Path Biography Methodology. Using a path biography study of a university and its information system, we illustrate how researchers may apply this methodology to analyze self-reinforcing mechanisms. Overall, this paper lays the groundwork for a research methodology that enables researchers to capture and analyze selfreinforcing mechanisms on and between technical and organizational levels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Thirty Sixth International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2015
EditorsTraci Carte, Armin Heinzl, Cathy Urquhart
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2015
Article number1645
ISBN (Print)9780996683111
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 36th International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2015: Exploring the Information Frontier - Fort Worth Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Duration: 13 Dec 201516 Dec 2015
Conference number: 36


ConferenceThe 36th International Conference on Information Systems. ICIS 2015
LocationFort Worth Convention Center
CountryUnited States
CityFort Worth, Texas
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems


  • Qualitative research
  • Path biography
  • Self-reinforcing mechanisms
  • Path dependence

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