Original Research

The descriptive properties of prescriptive theories: an application of systems thinking in data warehousing

Roelien Goede
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 8, No 2 | a233 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v8i2.233 | © 2012 Roelien Goede | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 March 2016 | Published: 31 December 2012

About the author(s)

Roelien Goede, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, South Africa

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Information systems and in particular data warehouses are very expensive systems to develop. It is therefore not advisable to experiment with ideas too different from current practices. This makes it difficult to apply prescriptive theories in an existing field. From theoretical considerations one might want to develop a data warehouse according to another method such as critical systems thinking methodology. It is however very difficult to persuade data warehouse practitioners to attempt such an experiment. This might be because they would rather adhere to known practices or that they are not sufficiently knowledgeable on critical systems thinking (or any other prescriptive theory) to apply it to such an expensive project. This paper describes a method in which prescriptive theories may be used descriptively to analyse their applicability in a specific field of application. The proposed method is used to understand the practices of the data warehouse discipline from the perspectives of the systems thinking discipline. It is also indicated how this method could be used in other studies where the behaviour of participants is viewed from a point of view of which the detail are unknown to the participants.

Keywords: Data warehousing, Systems thinking, Prescriptive theory, Descriptive theory, Interpretative research.

Disciplines: Information technology, systems theory, data warehousing, hermeneutics


Data warehousing; Systems thinking; Prescriptive theory; Descriptive theory; Interpretative research


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