Lee, A. S. (1999). Rigor and relevance in MIS research: Beyond the approach of positivism alone. MIS Quarterly, 23(1), 29-33.

Gold nugget from Lee: “I believe that there are often circumstances in which one of our responsibilities as academicians is to be the conscience for our practitioner colleagues and, indeed, for society in general” [31].

It is easy to imagine academics as the folks thinking about IS and practitioners as the folks doing things with IS. If that dichotomy is valid in any way, it makes sense that the role of conscience would fall to the academics. Assigning that role to academics doesn’t excuse practitioners to act with wanton disregard for the general welfare. All citizens have an obligation to act thoughtfully. But IS academics can position themselves uniquely to see beyond the confines of a single firm or industry (the normal realm of the practitioner) and recognize the broader social and moral ramifications of where practitioners are taking IS.

Of course, the role of conscience only increases the burden on IS academics to keep their perspectives and their entire field diverse. To answer not only “Can we do X?” but also “Should we do X?” we must be able in our worldviews to encompass algorithms and allegories, management theories and moral precepts.

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