Are We Discovering or Making Concepts? Performativity in Concept Defining

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksArticle in conference proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Alongside the emergence of new technologies and management trends, new concepts such as Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity appear. Once introduced, scholars debate these concepts’ definitions. Often, a uniform definition remains elusive in these debates but several different - sometimes conflicting - definitions result. In this short paper, we take a philosophical perspective to concept defining and ask why is it that we end up in these situations where a plurality of definitions exists? We outline two perspectives to concept defining: 1) concept-discovery; and 2) concept-making. We argue that concept defining is largely ill-conceived as an activity of concept-discovery according to which concepts are mirrors of the outside world. In contrast, we argue that viewing concept defining as an act of concept-making will sensitize IS researchers on the practices and processes which make concepts and their ethical as well as political implications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPACIS 2022 proceedings
Number of pages9
PublisherAIS eLibrary
Publication date07.2022
Article number1853
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-958200-01-8
Publication statusPublished - 07.2022
EventPacific Asia Conference on Information Systems - PACIS 2022: AI-IS-ASIA (ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, IN PACIFIC ASIA) - Virtual, Taipei and Sydney, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 05.07.202209.07.2022

    Research areas

  • Business informatics - IS philosophy, concepts, definitions, Agential realism, performativity, representationalism, digital transformation, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence