Information Systems Foundations: The Role of Design Science

Information Systems Foundations: The Role of Design Science

Dennis N. Hart
Shirley D. Gregor
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Information Systems Foundations: The Role of Design Science
    Book Description:

    This volume presents papers from the fourth biennial Information Systems Foundation Workshop, held at The Australian National University in Canberra from 2-3 October, 2008. The focus of the workshop was, as for the others in the series, the foundations of Information Systems as an academic discipline. The emphasis in this workshop was on the movement known as 'Design Science' and its importance in practical disciplines such as Information Systems. The chapters in the volume provide a critical examination of current design science ideas, with the role of human creativity given special mention. The philosophical underpinnings of design science thinking are also examined. Practically, the volume shows how the design science approach can be used in academic research that leads to artefacts that add value for individuals, organizations and society.

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-35-3
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Dennis Hart and Shirley Gregor
  4. Philosophical Foundations
    • 1. Identification-interaction-innovation: a phenomenological basis for an information services view
      (pp. 3-20)

      As with many technical information systems advances, research in service-oriented information systems (IS) has examined individual factors and technical specifications that provide insight into a technology-oriented, practical perspective of complex socio-technical systems. This research philosophy is representative of the ‘product view of design’ (McKay and Marshall 2007) that has come to dominate design-science research. Hevner et al. (2004:109) succinctly summarise this approach in the claim that the goal of design-science research is ‘the development and evaluation of technologies’.

      In response, recent research has included development of design-science theory focused on Heideggerian environments (Germonprez et al. 2007) and interpretative epistemology in...

    • 2. How critical realism clarifies validity issues in theory-testing research: analysis and case
      (pp. 21-48)

      Ensuring that research is valid is an enduring theme in the information systems (IS) domain, as evidenced by the large number of articles in our premier journals that focus only on that topic and the amount of column space in more conventional theory-testing articles that purports to demonstrate that the work is valid in some way. In research that comes from the ‘positivist’ tradition in IS—such as laboratory experiments, surveys and theory-testing case studies—discussions of research validity typically draw either implicitly or explicitly on the empiricist position of quantitative social science for their justification. Because empiricism formulates the...

  5. Theory and Method
    • 3. Building theory in a practical science
      (pp. 51-74)

      A tension between pure and applied branches of knowledge has long been recognised and can be traced back to the distinction between epistêmê and technê by the Greek philosophers. More recently, a distinction has been drawn between the paradigm of ‘science’ and that of the ‘artificial sciences’. The science paradigm can be categorised by terms such as epistêmê, pure science or the explanatory sciences, while the ‘sciences of the artificial’ paradigm has invited labels such as technê, applied science, prescriptive science, design science, technology and even on occasion art or craft. The distinction between the two paradigms rests on the...

    • 4. Incommensurability in design science: which comes first—theory or artefact?
      (pp. 75-90)

      The objective of design science is to create artefacts (broadly defined, including processes and methodologies) that are useful (Hevner et al. 2004). Design science, however, is more than building something useful. Good design science ‘is the synergy between relevance and rigor’ (Hevner 2007:91). Good design science should thus draw on the existing knowledge base of theories, frameworks and the like (see Hevner et al. 2004) and it must also contribute back to that knowledge base. It is in this regard that design science is more than simply good engineering. Iivari (2007) and Hevner (2007) are both quick to note, however,...

    • 5. An exploration of the concept of design in information systems
      (pp. 91-120)

      There has been rapid growth in interest in the notion of design—and hence in the building of a design science—in information systems (IS) in the past decade. Many seminal papers have been published that have proved very influential in the field, and thus have inevitably begun to shape the discourses that take place (essentially through publications) and the practices around design science that emerge over time. Notable among these seminal papers is that of Hevner et al. (2004) entitled ‘Design science in information systems research’, published in MIS Quarterly. It needs to be acknowledged, however, that this work...

    • 6. Evaluating information systems: an appropriation perspective
      (pp. 121-142)

      Evaluation is central to human experience (Hirschheim and Smithson 1999). We evaluate the outcomes of our own and others’ endeavours—from a meal prepared by the chef at a local restaurant through to the performance of our elected Member of Parliament. Such evaluations guide and shape our attitudes, beliefs and expectations and hence our future actions—to recommend the restaurant to our friends or to shun the elected member at the next election. These evaluations are primarily informal; however, a variety of frameworks, methods, tools and techniques has been developed to formalise the evaluation process (Farbey et al. 1993; Owen...

  6. Applications
    • 7. On using materiality in information systems development: a research brief
      (pp. 145-164)

      The development of proprietary information systems has been and continues to be a very complex activity marked by few successes and clamorous failures (Beck 1999; Remenyi et al. 1997). Despite a continuous search for better techniques, as Avison et al. (1995) point out, the problem is not in the tools used but in the lack of attention to organisational and individual issues and their interaction with technology. Responding to this situation, research and practice have begun to consider the information system development (ISD) process as a social rather than a technical problem (Gibson and Singer 1982; Winter et al. 1995)....

    • 8. How IS design can contribute to a major climate change mitigation project
      (pp. 165-188)

      The societal awakening to the problems caused by climate change seems to be sudden, yet scientists have been working in their labs for years on different ways to alleviate this problem. At The Australian National University, for example, we are working on a program to establish new and sustainable carbon-neutral energy sources that capitalises on Australia’s natural advantages and know-how. Our project’s ultimate objective is to develop a new oil industry to significantly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. This aim will be achieved by producing a range of products, such as bio-fuels, without using food crops, destroying rainforests or...

    • 9. An intelligent agent-assisted logistics exception management decision support system: a design-science approach
      (pp. 189-212)

      Businesses today around the world are facing the challenges of a rapidly changing environment due to the development of new business markets and technology. The business climate is changing from centralised and closed to distributed and open (Wang and Wang 2006). Today’s changing and distributed environment is full of complex and dynamic business processes. Moreover, the unpredictability of business processes requires that business applications support exception management (EM) with the ability to adapt dynamically to the changing environment. An exception is any phenomenon that prevents the successful completion of normal business processes (Klein et al. 2000). Traditional approaches dealing with...

    • 10. Thinking beyond means–ends analysis: the role of impulse-driven human creativity in the design of artificially intelligent systems
      (pp. 213-232)

      There are at least two distinct forms of human creativity that motivate design research: one that is primarily goal driven and is essentially concerned with ‘problem solving’; and one that is impulse driven and is essentially concerned with ‘problem creation’ (Michalos 1970). Michalos opines that while there could be some common factors that underlie both forms, there are critical cognitive distinctions in terms of the intellectual as well as emotional drivers that are involved in problem-creating as opposed to problem-solving design research. Herbert Simon’s (1969) initial attempt at collating the creative activity engaged in by ‘every liberally educated man’ (including...

    • 11. An information systems design theory for an RFID university-based laboratory
      (pp. 233-252)

      It has been stated that radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is one of the ‘most pervasive computing technologies in history’ (Roberts 2006:18). In the context of management, the technology has been viewed as ‘the next big thing’ (Wyld 2006: 154) and ‘the next revolution in the supply chain’ (Srivastava 2004:1) since it allows ‘any tagged entity to become a mobile, intelligent, communicating component of the organization’s overall information infrastructure’ (Curtin et al. 2007:88). The concept behind RFID is, however, not new. Indeed, it was used for the first time during World War II by the British Air Force to differentiate...

  7. Design Science in IS
    • 12. An assessment of DSS design science using the Hevner, March, Park and Ram guidelines
      (pp. 255-284)

      Decision support systems (DSS) is the area of the information systems (IS) discipline that is focused on systems that support and improve managerial decision making in terms of contemporary professional practice. Arnott and Pervan (2008) identify seven DSS types that are separated by technology, theory foundations, user populations and decision tasks.

      Personal Decision Support Systems (PDSS) are usually small-scale systems that are developed for one manager, or a small number of independent managers, to support a decision task. Perhaps the oldest DSS type, PDSS remains important in practice, especially in the form of user-built models and data-analysis systems (Arnott 2008)....

    • 13. Design science in IS research: a literature analysis
      (pp. 285-304)

      Recent years have seen an increased interest in topics associated with design science or design research within the information systems (IS) community. Most of this interest emerged after the publication of Hevner et al.’s (2004) paper on design science. Since then, some the most prestigious IS journals have launched special issues on design science. These include the Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (JITTA)in 2004, the Journal of the Association of Information Systems (JAIS) in 2007 and, most recently, MIS Quarterly (MISQ), in 2008. Some of the most prominent IS conferences—for example, the Americas Conference on Information Systems...