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Journal of Information Technology (2014), 1–4 © 2014 JIT Palgrave Macmillan All rights reserved 0268-3962/14


Is theory king?: a rejoinder
David Avison, Julien Malaurent
ESSEC Business School, Paris, France Correspondence: D Avison ESSEC Business School, Cergy-Pontoise, 95021 France. E-mail:

Abstract In this rejoinder we discuss six commentaries to our earlier debates and perspectives paper `Is theory king?: questioning the theory fetish in information systems’. We argue again for theory light rather than theory free papers, we discuss the potential scope of theories in information systems, we reflect on our terminology and exemplar paper, and we discuss the relevance of
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We conclude with a discussion on ‘where do we go from here?’ However, before doing so, we wish to highlight what was not contested by any of the respondents. What was not contested? In some respects, what was not contested reveals more about our discipline and the editorial policies applied by our leading journals than what was contested. We suggested in our original piece that ‘not many’ papers in our eight leading research journals would be seen by readers as ‘truly original, challenging and excit[ing]’. We see this as a fundamental criticism of our leading journals (and the discipline as a whole) that was left unchallenged by our very experienced respondents. However, on a more positive note, our bias in the ‘crisis’ debate, towards the view of Agarwal and Lucas (2005) that

we have a ‘powerful story to tell about the transformational impact of information technology’ was also left unchallenged (and indeed repeated by Henfridsson). Our conclusion, therefore, is that we do have powerful stories to tell but that we are not telling them well in our journals. We suggested in our original paper that this was due, at least in part, to our ‘theory fetish’ and argued that some papers in our leading journals could be what we termed ‘theory light’ where the outstanding contribution(s) concern aspects other than theoretical ones. Again, on

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