The authors try to clarify the descriptive and normative roles that executive information systems (EIS) assume and to provide a perspective for EIS investments. They utilize past literature, personal observations, and structured telephone interviews of four expert officers from major EIS vendor companies. They propose definitions for the terms MIS (management information systems), DSS (decision support systems), and EIS to support the discussion and to address confusion and inconsistency in the use of these terms. According to the proposed definitions, EIS are similar to and highly dependent on MIS. Although EIS have obvious value, the authors recommend a careful analysis of EIS propositions in light of MIS mode alternatives. Various organizational conditions might lead to a premature development of EIS when the required MIS substructure is not yet well-developed and when investment in MIS would be more beneficial. Furthermore, for some purposes, the periodic distribution of MIS reports has distinct advantages over the EIS mode. It is concluded that research should provide a substantiated perspective and a contingency framework so that the EIS vision may acquire a more clearly defined viability.