A Framework of Information Systems Concepts

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FFRRIISSCCOO
A FRAMEWORK OF
INFORMATION SYSTEM
CONCEPTS
The FRISCO Report (Web edition)
by
Eckhard D. Falkenberg
Wolfgang Hesse
Paul Lindgreen
Björn E. Nilsson
J. L. Han Oei
Colette Rolland
Ronald K. Stamper
Frans J. M. Van Assche
Alexander A. Verrijn-Stuart
Klaus Voss
© IFIP 1998
ISBN 3-901882-01-4
Full text of the FRISCO Report (MS-Word 6.0)
(as available by anonymous ftp://ftp.leidenuniv.nl/pub/rul/fri-full.zip) The FRISCO Report, originally completed in December 1996, is now made available as a downloable file for research and educational purposes. Not to be distributed for profit, in any form, without written permission of the International Federation for Information Processing

(enquire: ifip@ifip.or.at)
Printed copies (soft and hard cover) are available with permission of the copyright holder, at cost + postage, from the
Department of Computer Science, University of Leiden, The Netherlands (enquire: verrynstuart@rulcri.leidenuniv.nl)
© IFIP 1996, 1998
ISBN 3-901882-01-4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREAMBLE 1
1 INTRODUCTION 5
1.1 The Information System Area 5
1.2 Roots of the Problems in the Information System Area 7
1.3 Setting up a Framework of Information System Concepts: 10 1.4 The Structure of Our Conceptual Framework 12
1.5 The Structure of the FRISCO Report 13
2 A LINE OF REASONING ABOUT INFORMATION SYSTEMS 14
2.1 Searching for a Starting Point 14
2.3 Some Fundamental Questions to be Asked and Some Simple Answers 16 2.4 Towards a Raison d'être 24
3 INFORMATION SYSTEM CONCEPTS: An Integrated Overview 26
3.1 Our "Weltanschauung" 28
3.3 Actors, Actions and Actands 41
3.4 Constructing and Representing Conceptions 44
3.5 Communicating Conceptions: Restrictions Imposed by the Constructivist View 53 3.6 Models 55
3.7 Systems 60
3.8 Organisations, Information and Communication 64
3.9 Information Systems 72
3.10 Computerised Information Sub-systems 75
3.11 Summary of Assumptions and Definitions 83
4 INFORMATION SYSTEM CONCEPTS: A Formal Approach 92
4.1 The Fundamental Layer 94
4.2 The Layer of Actors, Actions, and Actands 100
4.4 The Layer of System Concepts 108
4.5 The Layer of Organisational and Information System Concepts 110 4.6 Summary of Primitives, Axioms, Definitions and Functions 112 5 A SAMPLE APPLICATION OF OUR CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK 121
5.1 Description of the Test Case 121
6 ELABORATION ON SELECTED TOPICS 137
6.1 Semiotic Concepts 137
6.2 System Concepts 146
6.3 Modelling Concepts 153
7 REFLECTIONS: Committed Positions on the Report 165
FRISCO – “Mission * Impossible” ? (Eckhard D. Falkenberg) 165 Is Information to Become the Phlogiston of the Late 20th Century? (Wolfgang Hesse) 171 On Collaborative Linking Support for the FRISCO Concept System (Pentti Kerola) 177 FRISCO - A Way to Insight? (Paul Lindgreen) 182

Reflections from a Practitioner on the Information Concept (Björn E. Nilsson) 187 A Dissenting Position (Ronald K. Stamper) 191
FRISCO Reflected Upon: So What or Aha? (Alexander A. Verrijn-Stuart) 197 REFERENCES 203
GLOSSARY 210
INDEX 218
The FRISCO Report Preamble
- 1 -
Away with a corrupt world!
Let us breathe the air of the Enchanted island.
George Meredith, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel
PREAMBLE
What is the FRISCO Report About?
The FRISCO report presents the results of the work of the IFIP WG 8.1 Task Group FRISCO1. The group was proposed in 1987 [FL87] and established in 1988. It organised three conferences on this subject [FL89, FRE92, FHO95] and produced an interim report in May 1990 [Lin90a].

This (final) report is intended to provide a suitable conceptual framework, i.e., wherever possible, simple, clear and unambiguous definitions of, and a suitable terminology for the most fundamental concepts in the information system field, including the notions of information and communication, and of organisation and information system. The report approaches these issues at two levels, namely (1) a broad examination of relevant fields, and...
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