Concept formation is a demanding task in social research. A methodological approach (called LION) is presented that emphasizes the clarification of concepts based on linguistic and ontological views. This method originates from a qualitative-pragmatist tradition of studies of work-practices in organizational settings and it is explicitly based on the linguistic turn and the practice turn in social research. It is also based on the articulation of seven conceptualization maxims. Its aim is to bring rigor to the conceptualizing process and clarity to resulting conceptualizations. The method is illustrated through an analysis example from service management. The concepts of “value-in-use” and “value generation” are critically analyzed using linguistically and ontologically oriented questions. The application of the LION method in qualitative research is discussed concerning research question formulation, collection, and analysis of data, review of extant theory, and final articulation of theoretical contribution.


conceptualization, linguistic turn, practice turn, language, ontology, qualitative research, pragmatism

Author Bio(s)

Göran Goldkuhl, Ph.D., is a professor of information systems at Linköping University (Sweden). He holds an honorary doctorate from Örebro University. His research interests cover areas such as qualitative and pragmatist research methodologies, practice research and practice theorizing, action research, case study methodology, design science, innovation and change management, work and IT codesign, business process modeling, communication analysis, digital service design, IS evaluation, e-government. He has published in journals such as Australasian Journal of Information Systems, Business Process Management Journal, Communications of ACM, Communications of AIS, Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, European Journal of Information Systems, Government Information Quarterly, Information and Organization, Information Systems and e-Business Management, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Journal of AIS, Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Semiotica, Transforming Government. Please direct correspondence to goran.goldkuhl@liu.se.

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