Abstract

This paper extends Sowa's (1997) Meaning Triangle to develop a framework for accounting information systems (AIS) research—the Research Pyramid. This framework identifies relationships between objects in economic reality, people's concepts of economic reality, symbols used to record and represent economic reality, and the resultant accounting information systems that capture and present data about economic reality. The Research Pyramid has two major uses. First, the paper illustrates how the Research Pyramid can be used to identify new research questions to extend existing research streams. To be used in this manner, existing AIS research is classified along each of the edges of the Research Pyramid. Once an area of the literature has been analyzed, the edges that have not been studied extensively reveal potential primitive mappings for future exploration. Second, each primitive mapping is evaluated to identify which of four research methodologies (design science, field studies, survey research, and laboratory experiments) are likely techniques for use in future studies. This analysis can help researchers with strong methodological training to identify new, interesting questions to be answered that capitalize on their research strengths. As such, the Research Pyramid is a tool to characterize existing AIS research, identify areas for future exploration, and provide guidance on appropriate methodologies to apply.