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Debra Howcroft & Eileen M. Trauth (Eds): Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research.

* Debra HOWCROFT & Eileen M. TRAUTH (Eds) Handbook of critical Information Systems Research Theory and Application Edward Elgar publishing, 2005, 426 pages

This book provides an excellent opportunity for readers to familiarise themselves with an increasingly popular research paradigm in organization and management studies, namely critical realism. This volume is a welcome addition to the previously published works of reference (including: M. ARCHER et al., Critical Realism, Essential Readings, Routledge, 1998, London; S. ACKROYD et al., Realist Perspectives on Organization and Management, Routledge, 2000 London; Critical Realist Applications in Organization and Management Studies, Routledge, 2001, London).

In a few words, critical realism aims to be an alternative research paradigm to positivism and to post-modern relativism. Realism? There is a world which exists independently of the researcher's representation of it. Critical? Social sciences have an emancipatory potential. They can be critical of the social phenomena they observe. Realism favours normative judgments. This normative agenda may disturb or irritate potential readers of the Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research. The contributions include numerous neo-marxist and feminism critiques. Nevertheless, this collective work deserves attention.

The Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research offers valuable insights into, for instance, the complex issues of "rationalities and emotions" and "power" in Information Systems. Economists and specialists will appreciate the provocative analysis of wide-spread phenomena, although the cases of "Is failure" and "design fallacies" merit further study. Other stimulating contributions include "management fashions and informations systems", "the ethnical turn in Information systems" and "competing rationalities."

Once again, some aficionados of the "lieu commun" in positivist social science against normative judgements will disregard this challenging paradigm in progress. However, like it or not, let's recognize that the academic labour of critical realism has an emancipatory potential of liberating our closed minds.
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Author:Padioleau, Jean-Gustave
Publication:Communications & Strategies
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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