From Representation to Mediation: A New Agenda for Conceptual Modeling Research in a Digital World
University of Hamburg, Germany
The role of information systems (IS) as representations of real-world systems is changing in an increasingly digitalized world, suggesting that conceptual modeling is losing its relevance to the IS field. We argue the opposite: Conceptual modeling research is more relevant to the IS field than ever, but it requires an update with current theory. We develop a new theoretical framework of conceptual modeling that delivers a fundamental shift in the assumptions that govern research in this area. This move can make traditional knowledge about conceptual modeling consistent with the emerging requirements of a digital world. Our framework draws attention to the role of conceptual modeling scripts as mediators between physical and digital realities. We identify new research questions about grammars, methods, scripts, agents, and contexts that are situated in intertwined physical and digital realities. We discuss several implications for conceptual modeling scholarship that relate to the necessity of developing new methods and grammars for conceptual modeling, broadening the methodological array of conceptual modeling scholarship, and considering new dependent variables.
Jan Recker is Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow, AIS Fellow, and Nucleus Professor for Information Systems and Digital Innovation at the University of Hamburg. He holds Adjunct or Visiting Professor positions currently at the QUT Business School, the University of Agder, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
In his research, Jan explores how organizations deal with digital transformations, how digital innovations enable new ventures, how developers analyze or design new digital technologies, and how digital solutions can contribute to sustainable development goals. Jan’s research in these areas draws on quantitative, qualitative, design, and computational methods.
Jan has published in leading information systems, organization science, management science, computer science, and sociology journals. He has also written popular textbooks on scientific research and data analysis, which are in use in over 500 institutions in over 60 countries. He is presently Senior Editor for the MIS Quarterly. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Communications of the Association for Information Systems. In 2019, he was named #1 business researcher under 40 years of age by the German Magazine Wirtschaftswoche. He was the youngest academic ever to be named an AIS fellow in 2018. He produces the “this IS research” podcast together with Nick Berente from the University of Notre Dame.