At the recent ICIS conference in Phoenix. I saw a poster by some Michigan PhD students on the most popular theories used in ISR and MISQ (the field’s top 2 journals).
Here is an interesting excerpt from that paper, which I have linked to below:
“We identified 154 distinct theories by originating discipline employed in the journal articles. Among these, the top 10 widely used theories accounted for 90% of the total usage. 88 theories (57% of total) are used only once, thereby making the distribution of usage of theories exhibit a long tail, as displayed in Figure 1. Theories from Psychology and Sociology account for 32% and 17%, respectively, of the total. Economics and Organizational Science with 11% each also are prominent. ”
Here is the most interesting graph from the paper, which shows a long tail distribution. I must say a tail distribution of this length is quite surprising. However, many of these theories have been edified by the work of IS researchers.