Subject

Philosophy of science is aimed at the creation, classification and evaluation of research methods. Hence, it can be regarded as meta-science. It is concerned with a number of questions:

  • Are there any limitations to an objective perception of reality? (critical, naive realism; construktivism)
  • What is the difference between scientific knowledge and the "dreams of a ghost viewer" (Kant)?
  • What languages are appropriate and/or required for describing scientific theories?
  • What are the appropriate procedures to evaluate scientific propositions about reality? (theories of truth)
  • Is it up to an application-oriented discipline to make recommendations for decision makers in practice?
  • What is/should be the role of science in society?

In general, all disciplines are the subject of the philosophy of science. However, in formal science, like mathematics or parts of computer science, there is not much need to reflect upon the relationship between formal propositions and reality.

Challenges

The Information Systems discipline (IS) is still characterized by a remarkable diversity. While this "disciplinary anarchy" (Ron Weber) could be interpreted as an expression of intellectual freedom, some researchers regard it as a threat to the discipline. In order to develop a coherent profile for IS, it is necessary to reflect upon its relationship to its neighbour disciplines - such as business and administration and computer science. This includes the discussion of the language that is appropriate for IS : Should it be more formal (like in computer science) or a specialized natural language? Should the research methods be hermeneutic or positivistic? There seems to be consensus that information systems should focus on topics that are relevant for decision making in business firms. However, that does not mean reducing research to consultancy. Instead there is need for a balance between abstraction and direct relevance for practical decision making.

Own Work

Our work in philosophy of science is mainly inspired by the question of whether research goals and methods of IS are essentially different from those of the neighbour disciplines. We found that IS research is essentially different in one respect which is clearly expressed by an approach that we call "constructivist" (sometimes referred to as "design science"). It recommends constructing reality by introducing new ways of coordinating cooperative work. Where the inductivist approach assumes that the variance in using information and expressing it through languages is a necessary reflection of the variety of tasks to be taken into account, the constructivist approach relies on the presumption that variance in actual information use and related coordination mechanisms is the result of an, at least partially , arbitrary process. For this reason, reducing variance by introducing new common concepts to handle information would not necessarily cause dysfunctional effects. Moreover, if the processes they are to be used in were thoroughly designed, they would contribute to more efficiency. In any case, those common artefacts would allow for a high level of integration and reusability.

Despite the prospects of the constructivist approach, it is burdened by a severe epistemological problem: In order to allow for a rational growth of knowledge we need criteria to comparatively evaluate competing constructions. Usually, these artefacts, like models and modelling languages, cannot be validated against reality in a straightforward fashion. We have worked on methods to evaluate artefacts (especially modelling languages and conceptual models). Other work includes reflections upon the appropriate language for IS research, methods of empirical research and the relationship between theory and praxis.

Projects

Conferences

Contact

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Frank

Prof. Dr.

Email
Room:
R09 R04 H27
Telephone:
+49 201 18-34042
Dr. Jens Gulden

Dr.

Position:
former Senior Academic Staff
Email
Mario Nolte

M. Sc.

Email
Room:
R09 R04 H45
Telephone:
+49 201 18-34088
Dr. Carola Schauer

Dr., (geb. Lange)

Email
Room:
R09 R04 H32
Telephone:
+49 201 18-34066

Please note that this section only displays current staff. If you are looking for contact data from former staff, please go to the respective section.

Publications

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  • Olbrich, Sebastian; Frank, Ulrich; Gregor, Shirley; Niederman, Fred; Rowe, Frantz: On the Merits and Limits of Replication and Negation for IS Research. In: AIS Transactions on Replication Research, Vol 3 (2017). doi:10.17705/1atrr.00016Full textCitationDetails

    A simple idea underpins the scientific process: All results should be subject to continued testing and questioning. Given the particularities of our international IS discipline, different viewpoints seem to be required to develop a picture of the merits and limits of testing and replication. Hence, the authors of this paper approach the topic from different perspectives. Following the ongoing discourse in neighbouring disciplines, we start by highlighting the significance of testing, replication and negation for scientific discourse as well as for the sponsors of research initiatives. Next, we discuss types of replication research and the challenges associated with each. In the third section, challenging questions are raised in the light of the ability of IS research for self-correction. Then, we address publication issues related to types of replications that require shifting editorial behaviors. The fifth section reflects on the possible use and interpretation of replication results in the light of contingency. As a key takeaway, the paper suggests ways to identify studies worth replicating in our field and reflects on possible roles of replication and testing for future IS research.

  • Frank, Ulrich: Theories in the Light of Contingency and Change: Possible Future Worlds and Well-Grounded Hope as a Supplement to Truth. In: Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-50). 2017, p. 5727-5736. Full textCitationDetails

    Based on a critical account of the dominant concept of theory, the paper presents an alterna-tive, wider notion of theory. It is motivated by the need to cope with a contingent research subject and the assumption that IS should provide an orientation for managing the digital transfor-mation. Unlike neo-positivistic notions of theory, the proposed conception is not restricted to de-scriptions of the factual, but may be aimed at de-signing possible future worlds. Conceiving of possible future worlds requires overcoming the barriers created by language that constitutes our idea of the present world. The paper discusses the resulting methodological challenges and outlines how they might be addressed.

  • Bichler, Martin; Frank, Ulrich; Avison, David; Malaurent, Julien; Fettke, Peter; Hovorka, Dirk; Krämer, Jan; Schnurr, Daniel; Müller, Benjamin; Suhl, Leena; Thalheim, Bernhard: Theories in Business and Information Systems Engineering. In: Business & Information Systems Engineering (2016), p. 1-29. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Winter, Robert; al, et: “Impact Engineering” or Social Responsibility?. In: Business & Information Systems Engineering, Vol 57 (2015) No 4, p. 279-292. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Strecker, Stefan; Fettke, Peter; Vom Brocke, Jan; Becker, Jörg; Sinz, Elmar: The Research Field “Modeling Business Information Systems”. In: Business & Information Systems Engineering, Vol 6 (2014) No 1, p. 39-43. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Strecker, Stefan; Fettke, Peter; Vom Brocke, Jan; Becker, Jörg; Sinz, Elmar: Das Forschungsfeld „Modellierung betrieblicher Informationssysteme“. In: Wirtschaftsinformatik, Vol 56 (2014) No 1, p. 49-54. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Higher Value of Research by Promoting Value for Researchers. In: Communications of the Association for Information Systems, Vol 34 (2014) No 43. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Squazzoni, Flamino; Troitzsch, Klaus: Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation: An Introduction. In: Squazzoni, Flaminio (Ed.): Epistemological Aspects of Computer Simulation in the Social Sciences. Springer, 2009, p. 1-11. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Die Konstruktion möglicher Welten als Chance und Herausforderung der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Becker, Jörg; Krcmar, Helmut; Niehaves, Björn (Ed.): Wissenschaftstheorie und gestaltungsorientierte Wirtschaftsinformatik. Physica, Heidelberg 2009, p. 167-180. Full textCitationDetails
  • Schauer, Carola; Schauer, Hanno: Moden in der Wirtschaftsinformatik – Wissenschaftstheoretische und wissenschaftspraktische Überlegungen zu einer von Hypes geprägten Disziplin. In: Hansen, Hans; Karagiannis, Dimitris; Fill, Hans-Georg (Ed.): Business Services: Konzepte, Technologien, Anwendungen – 9. Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik, Band 1. Wien 2009, p. 431-440. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Konstruktionsorientierter Forschungsansatz. In: Kurbel, Karl; Becker, Jörg; Gronau, Norbert; Sinz, Elmar; Suhl, Leena (Ed.): Enzyklopädie der Wirtschaftsinformatik : Online-Lexikon. Oldenbourg, München 2008. Full textCitationDetails
  • Schauer, Carola: Rekonstruktion der historischen Entwicklung der Wirtschaftsinformatik: Schritte der Institutionalisierung, Diskussionen zum Status, Rahmenempfehlungen für die Lehre - ICB Research Report. 18. Essen 2007. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47132Full textCitationDetails
  • Schauer, Carola; Schmeing, Tobias: Development of IS Teaching in North-America: An Analysis of Model Curricula - ICB Research Report. 17. Essen 2007. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47133Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Ein Vorschlag zur Konfiguration von Forschungsmethoden in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Lehner, Franz; Zelewski, Stephan (Ed.): Wissenschaftstheoretische Fundierung und wissenschaftliche Orientierung der Wirtschaftsinformatik. GITO, Berlin 2007, p. 158-185. CitationDetails
  • Schauer, Carola; Frank, Ulrich: Wirtschaftsinformatik und Information Systems: ein Vergleich aus wissenschaftstheoretischer Sicht. In: Lehner, Franz; Zelewski, Stephan (Ed.): Wissenschaftstheoretische Fundierung und wissenschaftliche Orientierung der Wirtschaftsinformatik. GITO, Berlin 2007, p. 122-155. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Wissenschaftstheorie. In: Köhler, R.; Küpper, H.; Pfingsten, A. (Ed.): Handwörterbuch der Betriebswirtschaft. 6th Edition. Poeschel, 2007, p. 2010-2017. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Towards a Pluralistic Conception of Research Methods in Information Systems Research - ICB Research Report. 7. Essen 2006. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47166Full textCitationDetails
  • Lange, Carola: Development and Status of the Information Systems / Wirtschaftsinformatik Discipline - An Interpretive Evaluation of Interviews with Renowned Researchers: Part I - Research Objectives and Method - ICB Research Report. 2. Essen 2005. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47173Full textCitationDetails
  • Lange, Carola: Development and Status of the Information Systems / Wirtschaftsinformatik Discipline - An Interpretive Evaluation of Interviews with Renowned Researchers: Part II - Results Information Systems Discipline - ICB Research Report. 3. Essen 2005. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47172Full textCitationDetails
  • Lange, Carola: Ein Bezugsrahmen zur Beschreibung von Forschungsgegenständen und -methoden in Wirtschaftsinformatik und Information Systems - ICB Research Report. 1. Essen 2005. doi:10.17185/duepublico/47174Full textCitationDetails
  • Schauer, Hanno: Impulse der Erkenntnistheorie und des Wissenschaftsbetriebs für eine betriebliche Wissensbewertung. In: Frank, Ulrich (Ed.): Wissenschaftstheorie in Ökonomie und Wirtschaftsinformatik: Theoriebildung und -bewertung, Ontologien, Wissensmanagement. Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2004, p. 289-310. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Zwischen Wettbewerbsorientierung und Qualitätssicherung. Universität und Wissenschaft in Zeiten des Wandels. In: Wissenschaftsmanagement, Vol 10 (2004) No 1, p. 27-31. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich (Ed.): Wissenschaftstheorie in Ökonomie und Wirtschaftsinformatik: Theoriebildung und -bewertung, Ontologien, Wissensmanagement. Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2004. CitationDetails
  • Schauer, Hanno; Hagengruber, Ruth: prospektiv - konstruktiv - retrograd: Beurteilung von Methoden des Wissensmanagements aus philosophischer Perspektive. In: Reimer, Ulrich; Abecker, Andreas; Staab, Steffen (Ed.): WM2003: Professionelles Wissensmanagement - Erfahrungen und Visionen. Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI), Bonn 2003, p. 429-429. CitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Rezension von "Kock, N.; Gray, P.; Hoving, R.; Klein, H.; Myers, M.; Rockart, J.: IS Research Relevance Revisited: Subtle Accomplishment, Unfulfilled Promise, or Serial Hypocrisy?. In: Wirtschaftsinformatik, Vol 45 (2003) No 3. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Forschung in der Wirtschaftsinformatik: Profilierung durch Kontemplation - ein Plädoyer für den Elfenbeinturm. 2002. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Informatik und Wirtschaftsinformatik: Grenzziehungen und Ansätze zur gegenseitigen Befruchtung. In: Desel, Jörg (Ed.): Das ist Informatik. Springer, 2001, p. 47-66. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Einige Gründe für eine Wiederbelebung der Wissenschaftstheorie. In: Tagung der Kommission Wissenschaftstheorie im Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaftslehre. 2001. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Schauer, Hanno: Potentiale und Herausforderungen des Wissensmanagements aus der Sicht der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Schreyögg, Georg (Ed.): Wissen in Unternehmen: Konzepte - Methoden - Maßnahmen. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2001, p. 163-182. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Evaluation von Artefakten in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Häntschel, Irene; Heinrich, Lutz (Ed.): Evaluation und Evaluationsforschung in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. Oldenbourg, 2000, p. 35-48. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Modelle als Evaluationsobjekt: Einführung und Grundlegung. In: Häntschel, Irene; Heinrich, Lutz (Ed.): Evaluation und Evaluationsforschung in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. Oldenbourg, 2000, p. 339-352. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Conceptual Modelling as the Core of the Information Systems Discipline: Perspectives and Epistemological Challenges. In: Proceedings of the AMCIS’99. 1999, p. 695-698. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Zur Verwendung formaler Sprachen in der Wirtschaftsinformatik: Notwendiges Merkmal eines wissenschaftlichen Anspruchs oder Ausdruck eines übertriebenen Szientismus?. In: Becker, Jörg; König, Wolfgang; Schütte, Reinhard; Wendt, Oliver; Zelewski, Stephan (Ed.): Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wissenschaftstheorie: Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven. Gabler, 1999, p. 127-160. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich; Klein, Stefan; Krcmar, Helmut; Teubner, Alexander: Aktionsforschung in der Wirtschaftsinformatik: Einsatzpotentiale und Einsatzprobleme. In: Schütte, Reinhard; Siedentopf, Jukka; Zelewski, Stephan (Ed.): Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wissenschaftstheorie. Grundpositionen und Theoriekerne: Arbeitsberichte des Instituts für Produktion und Industrielles Informationsmanagement. Nr. 4. Universität Essen, 1998, p. 71-90. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Die Evaluation von Artefakten: Eine zentrale Herausforderung der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Heinrich, Lutz; Häntschel, Irene (Ed.): Tagungsband des Workshops "Evaluation und Evaluationsforschung in der Wirtschaftsinformatik". Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, 1998. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Wissenschaftstheoretische Herausforderungen der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Gerum, Elmar (Ed.): Innovation in der Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Gabler, 1998, p. 91-118. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Increasing the Level of Automation in Organisations: Some Remarks on Formalisation, Contingency and the Social Construction of Reality. In: The Systemist, Vol 20 (1998), p. 98-113. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Reflections on the Core of the Information Systems Discipline. 1998. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Essential Research Strategies in the Information Systems Discipline: Reflections on Formalisation, Contingency and the Social Construction of Reality. In: The Systemist, Vol 1998 (1998) No 20, p. 98-113. Full textCitationDetails
  • Frank, Ulrich: Erfahrung, Erkenntnis und Wirklichkeitsgestaltung: Anmerkungen zur Rolle der Empirie in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. In: Grün, Oskar; Heinrich, Lutz (Ed.): Wirtschaftsinformatik - Ergebnisse empirischer Forschung. Springer, 1997, p. 21-35. Full textCitationDetails