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Context may be King, but generalizability is the Emperor!

Cheng, Aaron ORCID: 0000-0002-2070-3761, Dimoka, Angelika and Pavlou, Paul A. (2016) Context may be King, but generalizability is the Emperor! Journal of Information Technology, 31 (3). 257 - 264. ISSN 0268-3962

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Identification Number: 10.1057/s41265-016-0005-7


The relative importance of context and generalizability (or particularism and universalism) has long been debated in scientific research. Recently, Davison and Martinsons raised valid concerns about the possibility of false universalism in IS research, discussed its negative consequences, and made a call for explicitly including particularism in research design and reporting. In this commentary, we generally agree with the notion that context should matter more in IS research; yet, the importance of generalizability in research should not be downplayed. Specifically, we posit that generalizability should be given higher position in the scientific process and be the ultimate goal for researchers. Still, researchers need to fully understand the research context, which, in combination and replication, can help to cautiously make generalizable knowledge claims. Therefore, we characterize the relationship between context and generalizability as that of a "King" (as an analogy of the local role of context) versus the "Emperor" (as an analogy of the global role of generalizability).

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Association for Information Technology Trust
Divisions: Management
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2019 16:03
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2024 18:57

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