Action in Language, Organisations and Information Systems


The complexities of the organisational practice of information systems put demands on research and knowledge as well as on practice. There are many conceptual approaches aiming at describing and explaining these complex phenomena. Where do we find the promising ones? Some approaches emphasise the action concept. Without acknowledging actions, it seems difficult to create good scientific descriptions and explanations. Although such approaches may have differing theoretical perspectives, they have a unifying interest in the action concept and its explanatory power. Examples of such approaches are activity theory, actor network theory, structuration theory, conversation analysis, and language/action theory. There may be other approaches with theoretical influences of more or less explicit action orientation, such as social phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, soft systems theory, critical social theory, hermeneutics, social semiotics, socio-pragmatism, situated cognition theory, practice theory and affordance theory. Together with this interest in action comes an interest in the many related issues, such as knowledge, language, communication, social interaction, social institutions, coordination, artefacts, power, and values.

The purpose of the ALOIS conference series is to bring together researchers and practitioners with an interest in action-theoretic approaches for understanding information systems and their relations to organisations. Interest in this area also recently manifested itself in the form of a special issue of European Journal of Information Systems on the ALOIS topic (Vol 15, Issue 1, 2006). Building on the three successful ALOIS conferences in 2003 (, 2004 ( and 2005 ( we now arrange the 4th International ALOIS Conference. The aim is to create a fruitful meeting between different research traditions with action-theoretic affinities. We hope that researchers and practitioners coming from different traditions will benefit from this attempt of crossing borders and elaborating syntheses.