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The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture: An Explanatory IS Theory

Abstract : Enterprise Architecture (EA) has had an interesting and often controversial history since its inception in the late 80’s by pioneers such as John Zachman. Zachman proposed the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture (ZFEA), a descriptive, holistic representation of an enterprise for the purposes of providing insights and understanding. Some scholars claim that EA is an imperative to ensure successful business structures or business-IT alignment, or more recently with Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM), to manage required organizational transformation. However, EA initiatives within companies are often costly and the expected return on investment is not realized. In fact, Gartner recently indicated in their 2018 Enterprise Architecture Hype Cycle that EA is slowly emerging from the trough of disillusionment after nearly a decade. In this paper we argue that the role and value of EA is often misunderstood, and that EA, specifically the ZFEA for the purpose of this paper, could be considered as a theory given the view of theory within Information Systems (IS). The purpose of IS theories is to analyse, predict, explain and/or prescribe and it could be argued that EA often conform to these purposes. Using the taxonomy of theories as well as the structural components of theory within IS as proposed by Gregor, we motivate that the ZFEA could be regarded as an explanatory theory. Positioning ZFEA as IS explanatory theory provides insight into the role and purpose of the ZFEA (and by extension EA), and could assist researchers and practitioners with mediating the challenges experienced when instituting EA and EAM initiatives within organizations.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 10, 2021 - 3:02:34 PM
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Aurona Gerber, Pierre Roux, Carike Kearney, Alta Merwe. The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture: An Explanatory IS Theory. 19th Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society (I3E), Apr 2020, Skukuza, South Africa. pp.383-396, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-44999-5_32⟩. ⟨hal-03222875⟩

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