Multilevel Research in Information Systems: Concepts, Strategies, Problems and Pitfalls


Information Systems

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Information systems (IS) researchers often explore complex phenomena that result from the interplay between technologies and human actors; as such, IS research frequently involves constructs found at multiple levels of analysis, although rarely recognized as such. In fact, our targeted review of the IS literature found minimal explicit consideration of the issues posed by multilevel research although a number of studies implicitly conducted research at multiple levels. In this paper, we discuss the issues that result from not explicitly recognizing the multilevel nature of one’s work and offer guidance on how to identify and explicitly conduct multilevel IS research. Recognizing the relevance of multilevel research for the IS domain, we discuss a systematic approach to conduct quantitative multilevel IS research that is grounded in an overarching framework that focuses equally on testing variables and entities. We also highlight the unique role of IS in developing multilevel opportunities for researchers. Finally, we identify a number of gaps within the IS literature in which specific multilevel research questions may be articulated. Such explicit consideration of multilevel issues in future IS research will not only improve IS research but contribute to the larger discourse on multilevel research.

Journal Title

Journal of the Association for Information Systems

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