Discourse analysis: making complex methodology simple

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Discursive-based analysis of organizations is not new in the field of interpretive social studies. Since not long ago have information systems (IS) studies also shown a keen interest in discourse (Wynn et al, 2002). The IS field has grown significantly in its multiplicity that is echoed in the discourse, which policy makers and end-users use when they talk or write about IS. Understanding their discourse might shed light on understanding their behavior with information technologies. However, so far discourse-based IS studies lag both a conceptual grounding and the 'route descriptions' of the method. The paper illustrates the multidisciplinary genesis of what actually constitutes "discourse and elaborates on the main principles of doing discourse analysis in IS studies. By examining the theoretical foundations of discourse analysis, we show that its goal is to interpret the hidden meaning about information technologies, covered by a text. A researcher achieves that by a constant interplay between texts (project documents, interviews with the end-users or managers, manuals of IS), discourse (sets of the texts), and context (historical an, social background). We shall analyze the practical applications of the method and demonstrate an eight-steps mode for conducting discourse analysis for interpretive IS studies. By elaborating on "doing discourse analysis" we shall give an example based on the interviews conducted with the end-users regarding implementation of a personnel management system in a larger Dutch university.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationThe European IS Profession in the Global Networking Environment. Proceedings (on CD-ROM) of the 12th European Conference on Information Systems, 14-16 June 2004, Turku, Finland
EditorsT. Leino, T. Saarinen, S. Klein
Place of PublicationTurku Finland
PublisherTurku School of Economics and Business Administration
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)951-564-192-6
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Event12th European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2004 - Turku, Finland, Turku, Finland
Duration: 14 Jun 200416 Jun 2004
Conference number: 12

Publication series

PublisherTurku School of Economics and Business Administration


Conference12th European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2004
Abbreviated titleECIS
Other14-16 June 2004


  • METIS-217843
  • IR-47407

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