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    Overview of Theme Issue on Enterprise Ontologies
    blog entry posted March 6, 2016 by Roger S Debreceny, tagged research 
    Overview of Theme Issue on Enterprise Ontologies
    intro text:

    Forthcoming in the Summer 2016 issue of the Journal of Information Systems is a theme issue on Enterprise Ontologies, edited by Guido Geerts from the University of Delaware. This is an overview of the theme issue from Guido. 

    Guido Geerts

    Guido Geerts


    In an environment that is characterized by dramatic increases in the volume and variety of data, tools for integration have become progressively more important. The most common way of addressing interoperability issues is by using ontologies: formal specifications of agreed-upon conceptualizations. Ontologies have also proved to be useful as reference models and for reasoning purposes. For more than three decades now, accounting scholars have conducted research in this area, most of it focusing on the REA enterprise ontology. The latter has proved to be useful in a wide variety of applications, including as a reference model during the development of enterprise software, for reasoning purposes, to improve interoperability in economic commerce, and as a framework for teaching core accounting and business process principles.


    The objective of the “theme issue on enterprise ontologies” was to extend research on enterprise ontologies in two ways. First, to present the latest developments in the field. This is done by the first two papers. The Scheller and Hruby paper—Business Processes and Value Delivery Modeling Using Possession, Ownership and Availability (POA) in Enterprises and Business Networks—presents a refinement to the REA enterprise ontology for defining value creation and transfer as flows of possession, ownership, and availability. The POA notation further aligns traditional accounting and REA accounting through intuitive business process descriptions. On the other hand, the Snow and Reck paper—Developing a Government Reporting Taxonomy—uses an empirical approach to create a taxonomy for government reporting. Its main objective is to improve accessibility to and comparison of government data for those who invest in municipal bond markets.


    Second, the theme issue also initiates a research stream that aims at a better understanding of the enterprise ontology landscape, similar to efforts being done in other disciplines. While all enterprise ontologies focus on representing “economic phenomena,” there are important differences among them in content, scope, and use. The definition of enterprise ontologies in terms of a common framework—the Ontology and Analysis Framework (ODAF)—results in structured discussions of their strengths, weaknesses, and applicability, and also enables comparative analysis among them (i.e., what are the gaps, overlaps, and synergies?). The third and fourth papers in the theme issue discuss specific enterprise ontologies in terms of ODAF. The de Cesare and Partridge paper—BORO as a Foundation to Enterprise Ontology—presents the Business Object Reference Ontology (BORO) as both a foundational ontology and a reengineering methodology. One of BORO’s characteristics is that it has been used extensively in practice for a wide variety of applications, including the re-engineering of legacy systems, the development of reference architectures for enterprise data exchange, and enterprise systems integration. On the other hand, the paper by Weigand—The e3value Ontology for Value NetworksCurrent States and Future Directions—provides a systematic overview of the e3value ontology and its use for exploring innovative business models from an economic point of view. In addition, it discusses a number of possible extensions, in particular the co-creation of value and value model quality.