Characteristics of IT artifacts: a systems thinking-based framework for delineating and theorizing IT artifacts

Sabine Matook, Susan A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The information technology artifact (ITA) has been suggested as the core of information systems (IS) research, and the research community has been encouraged to deeply engage with the ITA. Various studies highlight, however, that the ITA continues to receive only limited attention and thus, little foundation exists for IS researchers to delineate and theorize about the ITAs studied. In this paper, we develop a framework that can be utilized as a language for articulating and theorizing the ITA in IS research. Our framework builds on the multi-faceted theoretical paradigm of systems thinking from which we derive several concepts and appropriate them to the context at hand, resulting in a seven-dimensional framework of characteristics for ITAs. In a literature survey of research on enterprise systems and enterprise resource planning systems in top IS journals, we show how ITA characteristics are currently included to present details of the relevant ITA instance and identify theoretical relationships between ITA characteristics and outcomes. We conclude the study by demonstrating the use of the ITA framework for delineating and theorizing the ITA in IS research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-346
Number of pages38
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • IT artifact
  • information systems research
  • systems characteristics
  • systems thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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