The Dark Side of Information Systems. The Role of the IT Artefact
Digital technologies are often developed and marketed under the premise that their use is positive - leading to innovation, development, and value creation (Turel et al., 2011). However, their large-scale diffusion in our workplaces and private space has also raised awareness of their risks and potential serious consequences across individual, organisational, and societal levels (Pirkkalainen and Salo, 2016). The versatility of digital technologies, their internet connectivity, and diverse suite of applications can create multiple pathways to problematic outcomes such as emotional health (e.g., anxiety, technostress), physical health (e.g., hypertension, poor sleep quality), data injustice (e.g., surveillance capitalism), and performance impacts (e.g., social, work) (Cinnamon et al., 2017; McCarthy et al., 2023; Shi et al., 2023; Wang and Lee, 2020). The purpose of this special issue is to provide a venue for IS researchers to advance our understanding of how IT artefacts contribute towards adverse aspects of technology use.
While the 'dark sides’ of technology continue to garner attention by information systems (IS) scholars, we believe that there is a need for increased scholarly attention toward theorising the IT artefact in problematic technology use, and how individuals, organisations, and society can prevent and respond to undesirable technology behaviour. The IT artefact is a core part of the information systems discipline (Chatterjee et al., 2020). However, conceptualisations of materiality in existing studies on dark side phenomena are often unclear. We invite studies that focus on design and action but also research papers (e.g., behavioural and conceptual research) that enable an improved understanding of the IT artefacts: the way they influence negative effects and/or help resolving issues to combat the dark side. Moreover, studies are often cross-sectional, conducted with students as subjects, and using self-reported data (e.g., Busch & McCarthy, 2021). We recommend longitudinal studies using a variety of methods including mixed methods research designs as well as using actual usage data to overcome the bias limitations of self-reported usage.
Topics of relevance to this special issue include, but are not limited, to:
- Theoretical frameworks, conceptual models, and ethical considerations (e.g., social justice) that provide new understandings of the IT artefact in dark side phenomena.
- Innovative methodologies for investigating problematic technology use and the influence of IT artefacts on users, organisations, and society as a whole.
- Research contributing to an improved understanding on the design and IT-related characteristics that trigger or contribute to negative effects or alternatively help resolve the key issues. For example, are dark-sided phenomena already existent when an IT artefact is introduced, or is it produced/reproduced by an IT artefact?
- Design principles explaining why users, organisations, and society engage in problematic behaviours within voluntary and involuntary IT use contexts.
- Research on the dark side of emerging technologies such as AI (e.g., ChatGPT), the metaverse, digital twins, augmented reality, and deep fakes.
- Unintended consequences of IT artefacts such as deception and malicious use, new forms of technostress (e.g., in the metaverse), technology-mediated addiction, cyberbullying, monitoring/surveillance and privacy issues.
- IT artefact design features and policy agendas for data justice and mitigating problematic technology use (e.g., digital locks, control mechanisms, digital nudging and sludging).
- Context-specific (e.g., cultural, geographical, industry, educational settings) studies that provide new understandings of the IT artefact in dark side phenomena.
We invite authors to follow the sensibilities of phenomenon-driven problematization (Monteiro et al., 2022) to tease out the relevance of the “dark side” phenomena addressed beyond rhetorical aspects. This includes opening up to new empirical settings, challenging assumptions, understanding the pathways/trajectories leading to problematic technology use, and making “the invisible visible” in dark side phenomena (cf., Monteiro et al., 2022). We also encourage researchers to acknowledge connections between their work and the long tradition of related studies on design theorising in Scandinavia. This includes contributions about the changing nature of work, AI’s implications for workers etc. which builds on rich literature in information systems, participatory design, socio-technical systems, and sociology of work. While IT and its applications have changed much in the past 20 years, submissions should build upon and extend, not repeat, previous insights and show us what is really new (cf., Kautz et al., 2007).
Why is this Important?
Existing IS literature has largely focused on the benefits of technology to organisations and society. While the ‘bright sides’ of IT use continue to garner attention, senior IS scholars have more recently observed a gradual shift from positivity to negativity about technology use (Myers, 2021) as epitomised by the emerging stream of research on ‘dark sides of IT’ (Pirkkalainen and Salo, 2016; Tarafdar et al., 2013). Work in this area shifts attention towards potential negative consequences of IT use such as instances when usage levels reach excessive levels. Although IS research has developed many notable contributions, our understanding of the role of IT artefacts in dark side phenomena remains nascent, with many issues yet to be addressed. It is important for IS researchers to critically appraise emerging digital technologies and act as an independent voice that questions the commercial interests of IT companies.
- Submissions Due: October 15th, 2023
- Initial Screening Decisions: October 30th, 2023
- Round 1 Decisions: December 15th, 2023
- Revisions Due: March 15th, 2024
- Round 2 Decisions: May 1st, 2024
- Second Revisions (if needed): June 20th, 2024
- Anticipated Publication Date: December 31st, 2024
Please include a cover letter with your submission explaining that you submit to the special issue about “The Dark Side of Information Systems. The Role of the IT Artefact”.
Busch, P. A., & McCarthy, S. (2021). Antecedents and consequences of problematic smartphone use: A systematic literature review of an emerging research area. Computers in Human Behavior, 114, 106414. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2020.106414
Chatterjee, S., Sarker, S., Lee, M. J., Xiao, X., & Elbanna, A. (2021). A possible conceptualization of the information systems (IS) artifact: A general systems theory perspective. Information Systems Journal, 31(4), 550-578.
Cinnamon, J. (2017). Social injustice in surveillance capitalism. Surveillance & Society, 15(5), 609-625.
Kautz, K., Madsen, S., & Nørbjerg, J. (2007). Persistent problems and practices in information systems development. Information Systems Journal 17, 217-239.
McCarthy, Stephen, Rowan, W., Mahony, C., and Vergne, A. (2023). The dark side of digitalization and social media platform governance: a citizen engagement study. Internet Research.
Monteiro, E., Constantinides, P., Scott, S., Shaikh, M., & Burton-Jones, A. (2022). Editor's Comments: Qualitative Methods in IS Research: A Call for Phenomenon-Focused Problematization. MIS Quarterly, 46(4), iii-xix.
Myers, M. D. (2021). Is there a shift from positivity to negativity about technology in the field of IS?. European Journal of Information Systems, 30(4), 357-358.
Pirkkalainen, H., & Salo, M. (2016). Two decades of the dark side in the information systems basket: Suggesting five areas for future research. Proceedings of the 24th European Conference on Information Systems.
Shi, S., Chen, Y., & Cheung, C. M. (2023). How technostressors influence job and family satisfaction: Exploring the role of work–family conflict. Information Systems Journal.
Tarafdar, M., Gupta, A., & Turel, O. (2013). The dark side of information technology use. Information Systems Journal, 23(3), 269–275.
Turel, O., Serenko, A., & Giles, P. (2011). Integrating technology addiction and use: An empirical investigation of online auction users. MIS Quarterly, 1043-1061.
Wang, C., & Lee, M. K. (2020). Why we cannot resist our smartphones: investigating compulsive use of mobile SNS from a Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement perspective. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 21(1), 175-200.