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RESEARCH ESSAY

GENRES OF INQUIRY IN DESIGN-SCIENCE
RESEARCH: JUSTIFICATION AND EVALUATION
1
OF KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION

Richard L. Baskerville
Department of Computer Information Systems, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University,
Atlanta, GA 30303 U.S.A. {baskerville@acm.org} and
School of Information Systems, Curtin Business School, Curtin University, Bentley WA 6102 AUSTRALIA

Mala Kaul
Department of Accounting and Information Systems, College of Business, University of Nevada, Reno,
1664 N. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89557 U.S.A. {mkaul@unr.edu}

Veda C. Storey
Department of Computer Information Systems, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University,
Atlanta, GA 30303 U.S.A. {vstorey@gsu.edu}

Recognizing that design is at the core of information systems development has led to a design-science research
paradigm where differing kinds of knowledge goals give form to differing kinds of knowledge processes within
a single study. This paper analyzes knowledge production in design-science research to explain how an
endogenous form of pluralism characterizes such studies, making it problematic to associate any design-
science study with a single view of knowledge production. Instead, a design-science research study exhibits
up to four different modes of reasoning, called genres of inquiry. These genres are derived from two dualities
that contrast differing knowledge goals and differing knowledge scope in the knowledge production process.
The first duality arises from the sometimes seemingly contradictory knowledge goals of science versus design.
The second duality reflects the contradiction between the scope of the knowledge produced, which may be
idiographic or nomothetic. The evolutionary and iterative nature of a design-science study compels different
knowledge goals and scope at different moments throughout a project. Because of this momentary nature, a
single design-science study can be associated with multiple genres of inquiry. This understanding of the variety
in the genres of inquiry advances the discourse on the nature of design-science research and the justification
and evaluation of its outcomes. Consequently, a corresponding set of criteria for knowledge justification and
evaluation is provided for each genre of inquiry.
1

Keywords: Design science research, genres of inquiry, evaluation, duality, knowledge scope, knowledge goal,
knowledge moment, centrality of knowledge, idiographic science, nomothetic science, endogenous pluralism

1
Alan Hevner was the accepting senior editor for this paper. Samir Chatterjee served as the associate editor.

An earlier version of this paper, “Unpacking the Duality of Design Science,” was presented at the 2011 International Conference on Information Systems in
Shanghai, China.

The appendices for this paper are located in the “Online Supplements” section of the MIS Quarterly’s website (http://www.misq.org).

MIS Quarterly Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 541-564/September 2015 541

Baskerville et al./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research

Introduction milieu of differing ways to know. Understanding knowledge
production in design-science requires more than just the
Decades of information technological innovations have been distinction of “know-how” from “know-why” (Kogut and
changing the face of human societies; design is central to Zander 1997); in fact, episodes of both are necessary to justify
these innovations. A thriving Management Information Sys- knowledge production.
tems (MIS) design-science community can help integrate the
contributions of myriad other MIS research paradigms into By seeking the benefits from any clash between the ways in
these important and continuously earth-shaking information which knowledge is produced by design versus science, we
technology innovations (Goes 2014). This challenge to explicate the unique value of intertwining these two con-
design-science researchers is indeed daunting: rescue schol- trasting kinds of knowledge production. We do not reconcile
arly MIS research from the far edges of relevance, where it design versus science; rather, we unpack the conflation of
has been sitting for most of the past half-century. However, other important knowledge production aspects that confuse
despite its potential, design-science research continues to the design versus science duality. The results provide
struggle in its emergence into mainstream MIS research (Goes researchers confidence in the polymorphic way in which they
2014). generate new knowledge, enabling them to better refine and
justify their research questions and findings. Such justifica-
This struggle arises partly from the complexity of design- tion will help overcome the barriers that hamper the
science research methods. For scholarly readers, a design- emergence of design-science into mainstream MIS research,
science study can appear to be a methodological hodgepodge: with a specific example being an expectation that the findings
partly a practical problem case study, partly an embedded in design-science studies can be justified by a single,
ethnography, partly a creative design, partly situated practice, monolithic set of methodological criteria.
partly action research, partly a field experiment, and so forth.
It is a study that does not fit squarely into any of our existing Design-science is “a body of intellectually tough, analytic,
research pigeonholes but, from appearances, might fit partly partly formalizable, partly empirical, teachable doctrine about
into all of them. For the researcher, reporting the findings of the design process” (Simon 1988, pp. 68-69). There has been
this seeming hodgepodge is challenging. The importance of a rich discussion around the process of design-science
the practical problem must be justified, which might be research, its concomitant artifacts, and the role of theory, with
anchored to ethnography. The validity of a new theoretical frameworks and principles emerging for conducting, justi-
grounding for the design must be justified, but might be an- fying, and evaluating design-science research (Baskerville et
chored to action research. The novelty of the design must be al. 2010; Hevner et al. 2004; Kuechler and Vaishnavi 2008,
justified, but might be anchored to situated practice. Even the 2012; Lee et al. 2012; Lee et al. 2015; McKay et al. 2012;
validity of any resulting artifacts must be justified, which Österle et al. 2010; Peffers et al. 2007; Venable et al. 2014).
could be anchored to myriad empirical methods: laboratory/
field experiments, action research, case studies, surveys, This design-science paradigm embraces seemingly contra-
interviews, simulations, and others. Hence, cross-method dictory principles. Although design and science share the
frameworks become useful for planning certain key com- same subject matter (the world) and produce artifacts (e.g.,
ponents of a design-science study, such as action design theories), their aims, methods, and criteria are quite different
research (Sein et al. 2011) or design ethnography (Baskerville (Galle and Kroes 2014, p. 227). Design is concerned with
and Myers 2015). synthesis, whereas science is concerned with analysis (Simon
1996, p. 5). The artifacts that result from design are “artificial
The intent of this paper is to frame this issue concisely. The objects having desired properties,” the production of which
issue is not one of myriad different scientific methodologies; are the main objectives of a designer (Simon 1996, p. 4).
rather, it is an issue of how knowledge production proceeds Design uses knowledge to create a new world, whereas
from the marriage between design and science. In design- science studies the world to create new knowledge (Verkerke
science research, knowledge production is polymorphic. A et al. 2013). Such apparent contradictions seem to shape the
single design-science study is necessarily multiparadigmatic, essence of this newer, design-science research paradigm:
thereby requiring differing criteria to justify the knowledge developing research that makes meaningful design and
produced at differing moments that occur when conducting science contributions (in a manner that is beyond just the
the research. The creation of knowledge results from the science of design or designing with science). It involves the
interdependence and interaction of both design and science. creation of knowledge through the analysis of a given design
Design-science research is unique because the collision of problem, synthesis of solutions based upon this analysis, and
both making and knowing in a single research study creates a evaluation of the solution.

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Baskerville et al./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research

Throughout this paper, design-science is hyphenated (as in theory with science (Fischer et al. 2010). By focusing instead
Hevner et al. 2004) to emphasize explanations of the specific on knowledge production in design-science studies, we reveal
manner in which the paradigm operates with such contradic- how the artifact is intertwined with both science and design,
tions. The notion of a design-science study broadly represents as well as how the theories are similarly intertwined. The
(1) a design-science research project, (2) an artifact design- paramount-driven views also conflate generalized knowledge
and-development (build and evaluate) project that such a with science, and specialized knowledge with design. A
research project may entail, (3) the production of new knowl- knowledge process view, as proposed in this research, enables
edge from design-and-development, and (4) the creation of us to unpack this conflation and distinguish generalized
reports or articles describing this design-science research knowledge production processes from specialized ones. This
project. position presents design-science as a rich, multifaceted
paradigm in which the need for artifacts and theories do not
If there is a central struggle between design and science simply coexist; rather, each proceeds from the other.
within this paradigm, it may be most apparent in efforts to
articulate and analyze the role of theory and its use and This research reveals and analyzes the polymorphic nature of
development throughout the various stages of design-science knowledge production in design-science research by recon-
studies (e.g., Goldkuhl 2004; Gregor and Jones 2007; Vaish- ceptualizing the relationship between design and science. We
navi and Kuechler 2007; Venable et al. 2014; Walls et al.
show how knowledge production in design-science research
1992). Much of the debate centers around whether, in
is necessarily multiparadigmatic, thereby requiring differing
addition to artifacts, a theoretical contribution is central to, or
criteria to justify the knowledge produced.
even necessary for, design-science studies (e.g., Baskerville
et al. 2010; Gregor and Hevner 2013; Österle et al. 2010).
Design-science research has dual goals of artifact develop-
Echoing the supposed contradiction between design and
ment and knowledge production. Our focus is on the produc-
science, this debate distinguishes between the research contri-
butions demonstrated by the utility and elegance of the design tion of knowledge (the centrality of knowledge production).
solution, as represented by the resulting artifact, and the During knowledge production, the investigator must work as
contrasting creation of abstract knowledge (Goldkuhl 2012; a researcher (design scientist) and as a designer to solve the
Gregor and Hevner 2013). For example, Woo et al. (2014) problem and generate new knowledge. Knowledge produc-
acknowledge both, provided new observations are enabled or tion affects, and is affected by, the goals of design and the
theory is expanded. consequent artifact. It is enveloped in an iterative, construc-
tive process that generates new knowledge that is sometimes
Significant efforts have sought to establish the foundations of quite specific to a designated context, but, at other times,
design-science as a research paradigm (e.g., Hovorka 2010; highly abstract.
Iivari 2007) and to provide its epistemological positioning
(e.g., Goldkuhl 2012; Niehaves 2007). Given its importance
and relevance to management information systems, it is Research Objectives
indeed worthwhile to understand how to conduct a good
design-science study based upon its assumptions and goals, Our work is motivated by the prevalent assumption in the
and both justify and evaluate the ensuing knowledge against design-science research community that design and science
the appropriate criteria for those assumptions and goals. can be combined and that, particularly in the MIS discipline,
exciting contributions emerge when the two come together.
Differing positions in these efforts and debates center on the The objectives of this paper are
tension between the goals of design versus the goals of
science. For some, design is paramount, with the primary (1) to analyze the different knowledge production
products of a design-science study being the valuable artifacts aspects of design-science studies, and
produced (March and Smith 1995; Nunamaker et al. 1990).
For others, science is paramount, with the primary products (2) to articulate a refined approach to justifying and
being the valuable theories produced (Gregor and Jones 2007; evaluating knowledge in design-science studies.
Walls et al. 1992). Theoretical goals often drive descriptive
research whereas pragmatic goals often drive prescriptive This refinement recognizes the manner in which a design-
research. science study spans several distinctly different ways of devel-
oping knowledge as its life cycle unfolds and consequently
Both the design-paramount view and the science-paramount such a study engages different modes of thinking, referred to
view sometimes conflate the artifact with design, and the as genres of inquiry (Hacking 2012).

MIS Quarterly Vol. 39 No. 3/September 2015 543

Justification and evaluation are critical components of design- Design-Science Research science research. design-science research has a dual audience also needs such criteria to evaluate the credibility of mandate: (1) the utilization and application of knowledge for these claims. organizational designs and management approaches. Walls et identify. pp. helps researchers recognize how types of knowledge production may occur through the reuse a change in their mode of thinking during the progression of of past artifacts. and evaluate design- Paper Organization science knowledge production. The paper is organized as follows. 2008). It is one with different episodic knowledge rules (van Aken 2004). creation of new ones. 2011). According to Goes (2014. technological a scientific study. as search (Niehaves 2007. the creation of novel or innovative artifacts that engender change or improvement in existing situations or problem The pluralism of design-science studies creates challenges spaces. design principles (Markus et al. which and proof of value. nor does it share the uniformity of al. or even in design instruc. and instan. Different thinking (genres of inquiry). First. methods. the presence of multiple styles of knowl. proof of use. technical. 1995). and illustrate four genres of inquiry that al. v-vi). is to explain the need for understanding forms. We propose a refined approach to justifying and eval- uating a design-science study by explicitly recognizing that Design-science research is iterative and incremental. the field will be well-served by solid means to understand. 2011). justify.. during which a researcher pursues different practices (Niederman and March 2012). may not necessarily be synchronous. The artifacts generated can take several of this paper. social. while gresses. including constructs. This is because of the differing sets of criteria needed to evaluate the accomplished by the ability of design-science research to differing parts of a design-science study’s knowledge produc- produce both knowledge and change (Simon 1996). Purao et al. These “create knowledge through meaningful solutions that survive solutions may be manifested in a variety of forms. Second. design patterns (Gamma et formity of a design study. new properties of knowledge goals. then.” Researchers. We take a pluralistic view of design-science re- strate how different styles emerge in interdependent ways. the objective is to problems that are of a particularly complex nature. Chau and Xu 2012. 1992). and. moments based upon varying assumptions and methodical Sein et al. at another point. A contribution tion (Cross 1982). the terminology and concepts needed to identify and analyze the knowledge goals Centrality of Knowledge and Pluralism and knowledge scope in design-science research are intro- duced. and/or informational resources (Järvinen and underpins the work with different assumptions. and action research (Baskerville and Wood- Harper 1998). The researchers’ production viewpoint. design propositions (Romme 2003). 2014) and the appearance of fine examples (e. knowledge production and artifact generation. the two dualities that lead to the development Knowledge production affects the goals of design and influ- of four distinctly different styles of approaching the process ences how an iterative process might at one point be focused of inquiry in design-science research are identified and on knowledge that is quite specific with respect to its context presented. designers have. although the constructs and methods that research focuses on developing improvement solutions to are created can lead to these. tiations (March and Smith 1995). reflection about the a design-science study will intrinsically demand a change in design process or about the artifact. applies different methodical approaches. define.g. tion. Given the pressure to improve the presence of advance our understanding of how excellent design-science design-science studies in the information systems field (Goes studies actually unfold. Robey 1996). 39 No. design-science create new theories.” Instead. All rigorous validations through proof of concept. 3/September 2015 .Baskerville et al. We 2007). when and how a researcher needs to change his or her 544 MIS Quarterly Vol. focus on knowledge that is quite edge production is illustrated by two examples that demon. abstract. Pluralism and well as how the criteria for justifying and evaluating the diversity of research methods are already recognized in both knowledge can change as a study evolves. a very common thread. 2002. the way they justify any knowledge produced. and (2) the generation of new knowledge. models./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research The design-science research process does not share the uni. to some extent. the main concern in design-science research is “not to test or In contrast to natural and social sciences. defined by a distinct set of modes of concomitant. design-science research processes change as a study pro- fore. McLaren et al. and design theories (Gregor and Jones 2007. Third. The paper con. From the centrality of a knowledge teria to justify their dual knowledge claims. This approach. information systems research (Landry and Banville 1992. need acceptable cri- is the design process. cludes with a discussion of the research implications. then. There.

and the search for alternatives. since there are authoritative and referred works that delineate such criteria. thus. used as a verb. our purpose regards the nature of Duality #1: Knowledge Goals of knowledge production in design-science. to whom it is accessible. group. For science extends knowledge. product. organization. (Appendix B provides details on these quality For Simon (1996). aiming to mainly inhabited by the processes of such a search. the frequent knowl. knowledge for design-science research: knowledge goals and knowledge scope. the knowledge goal with respect to professional practice. In contrast. Our pur. Appendix A summarizes the main terms design context. 1984) knowledge.) design-science: the evaluation of designs. Knowledge scope captures where the knowledge is appli- Knowledge Dualities in Design. Designing is a goal-driven human activity that com- Simon’s (1996) second aspect. broad. Whereas Simon was centrally concerned with the processes of evaluation. Instead. we suggest pub- Knowledge Goals and Knowledge Scope lished examples of such criteria that are available for adoption. Baskerville et al. and service (McKay et al. Hevner (2007) captures the knowledge production issues in this dimension succinctly when he asks how a research project can “effectively balance Design goals of fundamental scientific understanding with con- siderations of the usefulness of the resulting artifacts” (pp. we explicitly focus on knowledge goals design. We refer the following conceptualization: Design. two key aspects dominate thinking about criteria. These dualities help to explain the plu. contradictory goals and criteria of science and design (Galle tion to a goal as involving relationships among these terms and Kroes 2014). as a noun. produce knowledge imbued with both analytical rigor and MIS Quarterly Vol. value. cable. our focus on design-science knowledge production. Design-science research. 3/September 2015 545 . communication. use. These different forms of knowledge production affect the goals of design and how an iterative process might. including problem solving. fic purpose and. and more cursory? We refer to this second aspect of design-science knowledge production as knowledge scope. Evaluation is neces. or should it be wide. and constraints. and uses “purpose or goal” together. Should the search cation and evaluation criteria during the course of a design. Goals are widely promoted as a dimension for The first duality is present in the very name of design-science theorizing in design-science research (Gregor and Jones research and represents the tension between the sometimes 2007). pose considers the extent of such a search. is prises inventiveness. A duality identifies two conceptually types of knowledge scope at different times. In our framework. the two dualities influence knowledge In the discussions that follow. Design Versus Science sarily framed by the goals driving the design and research activities. 39 No. Simon discusses the fulfillment of purpose or adapta. Most often. is beyond the scope of this paper to invent or propose new ad hoc criteria per se. different elements as interdependent and no longer separable./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research research modes and how that change leads to differing justifi. multiple organization. Duality at one point. knowledge. to this first aspect of design-science knowledge production as refers to the act of planning or creating something for a speci- knowledge goals. produce knowledge that is quite specific to the research context and. There are myriad ways in which people have conceptualized 91-92). refers to the product of the design process. we suggest criteria for eval- production processes and account for the interdependencies uating each contrasting type of knowledge in the dualities. requirements. at another point. focused. the search for alternatives. produce quite abstract We adopt the notion of duality from Giddens’ (1979. user experience. inten- that extend across both scientific knowledge and design tion. Likewise. Science Research Knowledge can be applicable at “an individual. we adopt edge goal with respect to design applies knowledge. process. Design-science research must accomplish the dual challenge ralism observed in design-science research (Niehaves 2007). and whose activity it supports. and more intensive. engages different structuration theory. planning. or industry-wide level” There are two important dualities found in the centrality of (Lindvall and Rus 2002). 2012). of solving a problem (generating a solution) and creating new knowledge. It among them. for knowledge about solutions be bounded by the immediate science study. or should it extend more broadly? Should it employed in this paper and provides additional details on their be narrow.

if designs are (implicitly) hypotheses about action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred relationships between structure and function in the ones” (Simon 1996.) Design knowledge criteria. The design-science duality represents the effort to establish plish the intended outcome. Grant (1979. Any science. and the criterion approaches to the design task. and methods or the criterion for truth is instead credibility. and problematic. about design problems. This focus on the science component may have Science overshadowed the fundamental primacy of the designer’s knowledge. Design knowledge can science: the trustworthiness of its knowledge. It defies an easy discordant. Lincoln and Guba (1985) pro- knowledge that turn things into value that people use” vide a meaningful example of an overarching criterion for (Hevner and Chatterjee 2010. in new knowledge. “Design is the instructions based on Science knowledge criteria. (See Appendix B for additional details on these criteria. and formulating a (building the artifact) constitutes a test of those design solution. for neutrality is confirmability (Guba 1981). activity (Robillard 1999). so design process reviews in software engineering hiem (2000. method of inquiry. utilizing the designers’ knowledge and embedded hypotheses and constructing the design experience. Duality larity between expected and observed performance. design methods and kernel theories that guide the suggests that the highest qualities of design knowledge are design requirements and design process seek to formalize associated with an individual designer: inventiveness. 3/September 2015 . multidimensional. design-related knowledge (Walls et al. (See Appendix B for additional efforts. then creating a design generates a set of problem requirements./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research innovation. Goles and Hirsch.” The science-centric view generally recognizes knowledge as collective and shared. The activity of designing “devises courses of Clearly. In less positivist views.” suggesting that a method might be vital to and social sciences rarely produce law-like explanations. 46) asserts that science and engineering. 529).Baskerville et al. Hence the creation-and-construction of designs is Design as a process is a very practical know-how that cannot fully consistent with the scientific method as be relegated down to a theory. mized in the failed efforts to “scientize” design with design Information systems design-science is related to computer methods (Cross 2001. p. Thus designs are by their very nature thinking with inventive modes to develop artifacts that solve falsifiable propositions. which is widely acknowledged in the design Science is a systematic investigation and validation resulting literature. As noted by Baldwin (in Purao et al. As a designer estab. is to accom- 546 MIS Quarterly Vol. whether the processes are analytic or synthetic.) science continues to draw discussion about what constitutes scientific design knowledge (Gregor and Hevner 2013. description. but science. albeit complicated ones. 53). evolves over time (Hevner and real. 2012). 2008. 1992). then. Such behavioral tific activity. and originality. as well as to the social sciences “the act of designing itself is not and will not ever be a scien- employed in organizations and management. Despite these tiveness. but not design. Petroski (2009) advances one example of the central criterion for justifying and evaluating design knowledge as the production of an acceptable simi. symbolic or including design-science. The designer’s and contingent on carefully bounded ranges of philosophy knowledge is central to the design process. Martin (2009) example. design solutions. 39 No. Experience plays a key role. based on theory or based on practice (Owen 1998). 251) argue that for something to be scientific often represent a “faked rationality” (Parnas and Clements it must “use the agreed set of conventions—the scientific 1986). complex. p. In a more proceed from both the creation of new kinds of artifacts. 111). Designing is a nonscientific or rather explanations that are contextualized in human behavior. p. whereas the criterion for neutrality is lishes the goals of a design process. The notion of science has a frequent. Because the knowledge is rigor in information systems design-science studies. Knowledge production. p. Lee et al. The design process can be messy and disorderly. multivariate problems in elegant and unique ways. p. the role of theory and its relationship to design- details on these criteria. innova. regardless of and/or probabilistic claims of causality. ascientific activity that is not repeatable. described by Popper [1989] and others. Chatterjee 2010). For functional. 1). success or failure is paramount. linkage to the notion of truth. new knowledge can arise objectivity (Lincoln and Guba 1985). It involves understanding the real world. Design combines analytical modes of hypotheses. but difficult. and positivist view of science the predominant criterion for truth the process of designing such artifacts. A challenge. is internal validity. evaluating design alternatives. meeting high These contradictions between design and science are epito- standards of validity and/or reliability (Glanville 1999). The knowledge should be useful in designing artifacts that accom. as in any knowledge-based p.

the is usually associated with build-and-evaluate activities. justifiable (idiographic) artifacts or. for every science is both the scope of design-science research knowledge can evolve. Design knowledge statements (Järvinen 2007. Specifically. thus. Overton and the knowledge from design is conflated with particular. providing due recognition for the during the justification and evaluation phases of a design. edge to situated settings. While appropriate. lights the importance of the design and science aspects of this research paradigm without minimizing the individual aspects The parallel distinction between the differing scopes of design of either. This pluralistic viewpoint acknowledges that design-science aims at providing general design solutions for a general class Recognizing and understanding the duality of design and of problems. however. An entire branch of philosophy. Bunge (1999) delineates the distinction as In examining the knowledge production objectives of design- science research. intertwined. science study. confusion ensues criteria will be more pragmatically dependent upon the exact when the knowledge from science is conflated with general context of the study (Moisander and Stenfors 2009. who “too would recognize two classes of science the nomothetic Duality #2: Knowledge Scope of Nomothetic (seeking general laws) and the idiographic (dealing with Versus Idiographic structured pattern)” (Allport 1962. p. being applicable duality present in the essential knowledge goals inherent in its whatever the target may be” (Friedman 2003. Given that the name of the paradigm is design-science. 408). Hence. van Aken 2004). p. design appear as contestants in a struggle for primacy. The best extraneous assumptions. we epistemology. Likewise. a class of designs. and reshaped by each other. 100). dualities are interdependent and characterized by their whereas science is usually associated with justify-and-theorize mutually shaped emergent powers. these should not be regarded as the only criteria. the generic aspect is “that part of the process of design sought. as cooperating forces that. although novel knowledge is design. p. these objects (Warfield 1990. idiographic aspects of design-science research. 515). It helps emphasize the interdependence and softens knowledge is found in seminal work on design theory. nomothetic and idiographic (pp. Design knowledge is distinct from scientific knowl.[it] is a philo- criteria./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research modate and respect both the experiential knowledge of the abstracting general (nomothetic) knowledge from situated designer and the efforts to produce rigorous. design-science research is characterized by a that is indifferent to what is being designed. 1991). Walls the tension between the seemingly opposed nature of the et al. If one views design and science as a duality. 39 No. Scientific knowledge goals are then it ceases to be general. For the nomothetic aspect of conventional and systematic. Since the design-science research process is iterative. March and Smith 1995. For example. 3/September 2015 547 . and must be evaluated Conceptualizing design-science research as a duality high. is dedicated to the study of the general condi. must be evaluated against a different set of universals (or general properties)…. we adopt the criteria frequently cited in the The distinction is important because it pertains to the scope of information systems literature (since inventing new criteria is knowledge in both science and design. with respect to knowledge claims that pertain to particular instances. Lincoln and science uses the term nomothetic with respect to knowledge Guba (1985) provide a balanced set of criteria for both claims that consider a class of phenomena and idiographic positivist and interpretive research. Here. differences between individuals (or particulars) and edge and. The distinction is traced to Windelband. is different from situated knowledge. In process for making meaningful contributions. MIS Quarterly Vol. accordingly. 33). it is goals are generative and inventive. Instead. must be cautious not to overload that duality with too many tions (criteria) for knowledge production processes. Baskerville et al. although tempered by possible to narrow a general statement to make it local. applying abstract knowl- knowledge. while still opposites. The philosophy of beyond the scope of this paper). which are quite con. 2004. alternately. Methodologically. (1992) distinguish design theories as those applying to knowledge goals of design and science. but requirements and constraints. In design-science research. General knowledge. others distinguish local versus general trasting and somewhat contradictory. these objects appear instead Heje et al. Pries- not exist independently. 21. the researcher must act as both designer and the idiographic/nomothetic distinction involves the scientist. sophical artefact. 2014). but rather as a whole. the idiographic or specific aspect of design is “that part of the design process that is particular to the target class” By considering design and science as a dualism. so that any one aspect can- activities (Hevner et al. design-science research may science is useful for the analysis of design-science studies and apply idiographic methods in the iterative life cycle and the subsequent identification of appropriate criteria to apply journey toward a solution. contrast. are inter- dependent.

pro- propositions to a theory” would yield a “contribution.. including chemistry (e. phenomenon. each of which has its own setting and a (potential) artifact. and triangulation. Briggs and Schwabe (2011) argue that. or understanding penetrate the complexity of a problem. increasing the explanatory power of a graphic knowledge is useful because the explanations and theory through “the addition of more constructs. Because this general distinction in the dif. These two dualities delineate four genres of processes aim to produce specific concepts for the problem inquiry for knowledge production. and depend. (See Appendix B for more details about these criteria. involves a separate nomothetic–idiographic ability (Guba 1981). Lincoln and Guba (1985) specifically Nomothetic recommend criteria that regard not just the knowledge itself. idiographic knowledge criteria. even if viding insights. 39 No. social groups. and sociology (e. They assert that the highest history (e. researcher derives idiographic knowledge through processes valuing parsimony and limiting the number of constructs or that involve practical thinking about a specific situation.g.e.. on these criteria. external global and applicable to a general class of cases. The process of design-science studies often invokes both a nomothetic and an idiographic knowledge scope. Nagel 1961). never before encoun- the philosophy of science (e. Knowledge validity.. Goldstein and Goldstein (1978) provide one example of education (e. it is considered tered situations and solutions. satisfactory explanations that provide an understanding of a nizing this duality between parsimony and richness in design. 548 MIS Quarterly Vol. persistent observation. Because repeatability is impossible with idio- graphic knowledge. although a suggest that value is ascribed to the knowledge of concrete relatively parsimonious theory with competitive explanatory and unique properties. Klein and Myers (1999) provide other of a given case. so the it were less parsimonious” (p. reliability. of knowledge spanning the design-science duality.g. transferability. in discussions about the scope of scientific knowledge in many diverse fields. Windelband and Oakes (1980) additionally science. Allport (1962) tempers the usage of the term examples of such criteria: principles such as contextuali- nomothetic from universal (which rarely holds under modern zation.. tations. help the designer to think inventively about a unique situation ferent scopes of scientific knowledge is widely accepted in and to develop knowledge about new. or (design and science) and knowledge scope (idiographic and works of art (Bullock et al. 3/September 2015 . sensitivity to multiple interpre- scrutiny) to “an identifiable section of the population” (p. perhaps without numbers of constructs in causal statements (George and regard to other settings or solutions. qualities in idiographic knowledge are derived from their Franck 1982).g. rather than general properties.. then. scope. Idiographic claims tend highly applied mode of thinking involves deciding exactly toward contextualizing theories.. Design-science researchers derive nomothetic knowl. Deno 1990).g.. The phenomena are not repeatable. and suspicion.g. Recog. Idiographic processes Bennett 2005). Lamża 2010). valuing richness from larger how to solve the particular problem at hand. such as prolonged Nomothetic knowledge production processes aim to produce engagements. For general theories or concepts that cover the entire set of classes similar reasons. not just for a single phenom. Nomothetic processes also help the Duality researcher work from previously established knowledge to develop new knowledge. Gerring 2006). consistency. generalizability. dialogical reasoning. but also for similar phenomena (i./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Nomothetic claims tend toward reductionism in theories. but also the methods of its production. Idiographic knowledge nomothetic). geography (e. 97). In a design-science study. psychology (e. (See Appendix B for additional details 406).) edge through processes which involve abstract thinking that considers the kind of problem at hand or the kind of solution that might be effective. a justification and evaluation criteria..g. An idio- Guba (1981) provides meaningful examples of nomothetic graphic knowledge scope is local and confined to a particular knowledge criteria. This variables in causal statements. These criteria acknowledge that the distinction which presents a duality that inhabits the creation knowledge should be useful.Baskerville et al. for a class or kind of phenomena). Fattorini 2007). enon. Idio- power is preferable. quality criteria focus on how knowledge is distilled from the phenomenon. 1988).) Four Genres of Inquiry in Design- Idiographic Science Studies Idiographic knowledge production processes involve the Design-science studies contrast in both knowledge goals study of particular cases such as persons.g. Malewski and Topolski 2009). a nomothetic knowledge scope is more knowledge are applicability. axioms. The highest qualities in nomothetic case or problem.

or a manner of theories (Walls et al. the mode of knowledge production can vary as a single design-science study evolves. p. Such more toward design than science. proceed. as driven by the two to a general class of problems. and evaluation. they invoke different styles of articula- Goal and Scope: In nomothetic design theorizing. but soft. problem solving (Hevner and Chatterjee 2010). The com. modeling. The knowledge role MIS Quarterly Vol. hypothetical nomothetic than idiographic. methods. 39 No. It embraces Nomothetic design produces design knowledge applicable to an element of design inventiveness in its reasoning and an identifiable section of a given population. Genres of inquiry assist in explaining the knowledge 2010). such as alized components (meta-design) and generalized require- design-science research. Nomothetic design produces knowledge about standards of a genre help a researcher by clarifying how a par- design elements that are more general. is a unique paradigm that Each of these four genres of inquiry is detailed below. Such general design elements also include meta-designs that Although design-science research deals fundamentally with are more abstract. nature of knowl- (Iivari 2007). representations explain why a generalized set of requirements is satisfied by a generalized set of object features. Such nomothetic different methods of inquiry” (Hart 2000. interpretivism. which Hacking (2012) refers to as genres of are applicable to a class of problems (Markus et al. Hegel. provide an elegant means for different questions about lived experience and requires representing nomothetic design knowledge. These articulation styles subtly communicate the way in processes aim at producing general knowledge about a class which research is shaped differently at different times. categories without scales or mon examples of positivism. 1992) or general design principles that finding out. understanding design-science studies and how they should marized and elaborated in Table 1 with respect to design. because “each genre of inquiry asks ments (meta-requirements). however. Nomo- As with other creative human activities. with drives practices that differ from previous modes of inquiry respect to their distinctive goals and scope. its pluralistic This kind of design-science knowledge may also include nature dictates that it cannot be viewed as a single approach knowledge about classes of design processes. Nature of Knowledge: Knowledge production processes The genres of inquiry framework represents all possible devise a course of design action in a manner that is applicable modes of design-science studies. and quality criteria. 2002). This knowledge integrates this material inventiveness with science. and design theory. 1992). Explanatory design theories (Baskerville and Pries-Heje inquiry. technological rules. the generalized functional relationship between gener- activities in inventive forms of scientific inquiry. These are sum. Baskerville et al. ments (such as meta-requirements that are more abstract). 3/September 2015 549 . 39). it fits all five. Design-science research. devises a class of concrete actions that will change a class of existing situations into preferred ones (Simon 1996). Different genres of inquiry not only invoke different philo- sophical assumptions. and driven more toward modes can include experimental exploration. Kim 2003). and taxonomy development (Hacking 2012). and critical mutual exclusivity. Examples of the resulting dualities of design versus science and nomothetic versus artifact are constructs./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Defining Genres of Inquiry Genres of Inquiry Framework The philosophy of science offers diverse perspectives that Figure 1 represents a conceptual framework which captures permit researchers to construct research paradigms from the four distinct genres of inquiry. For example. The of designs. these are not hard. As a result. and Singer. Kant. This assertion is grounded in the fundamental edge. idiographic. Design-science research does not fit well into any one of Churchman’s five modes. The arrows indicate that myriad ontological and epistemological positions. higher-level require- ticular community will receive new work (Bazerman 1988). models. The nature of the knowl- inquiry based upon the five individual philosophies of edge associated with each genre of inquiry is important for Leibniz. Locke. who delineates five modes of the development of the framework. indeed. design principles. higher level designs (Walls et al. study classified as Genre ND (nomothetic design) is driven ciated modes of inquiry (Bonner 2010. knowledge tion. to knowledge production. design-science thetic design can be expressed as more generalizable design researchers often use a style of thinking. knowledge production in a research are typical foundations upon which to define asso. It moves Genre of Inquiry: Nomothetic Design (ND) beyond these five modes by distinctly engaging in remaking and recreating both natural and artificial reality. Knowledge goals and scope drive work of Churchman (1971). Quality criteria provide guidelines for justification science research.

(such as language) shapes of artifacts in the specific. design knowledge include a mix of the example criteria Martin 2009. 39 No. dependability. external effects of artifacts./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Table 1. houses of sets of fact nets. Singerian Inquiry is ethically purposeful in leading to measurable Prescriptive knowledge aims at creating Progress advancement of the environment. and the natural and artificial milieu of intertwining goals and scope. Genres of Inquiry Framework for Design-Science Studies of such artifacts is one of materializing or embodying the knowledge.” or hierarchical knowledge systems using knowl. transferability. inventiveness. Jones 2009. differing ways that lead to both consistent and contradictory knowledge. changes in time and space. current into which it must fit in order to be acquired. Kantian Inquiry is constrained because new knowledge is depen. environment. and originality (Guba 1981. Hegelian Dialectic Inquiry invokes interactive observers that develop both Artifacts often affect stake-holders in consistent and contradictory kinds of knowledge. These include applicability. of artifacts. Simonian Artifice Inquiry involves the constructive interaction between Knowledge production proceeds from a people. context. Nomothetic Genre ND Genre NS Nomothetic Nomothetic Design Science Design Science Genre ID Genre IS Idiographic Idiographic Design Science Idiographic Figure 1. reliability. design genre of inquiry. artifacts. generalized knowledge developed within the nomothetic external validity. Lockean Inquiry involves an open system building consensus on Truth is contingent on artifact context that Consensus contingent truths based on evolving knowledge store. Petroski 2009). Knowledge is constrained by the feasible Representation dent on a particular formal framework. (See Appendix B for more described earlier for nomothetic knowledge and design details on these criteria. generalizability.) 550 MIS Quarterly Vol. the production of an acceptable similarity between expected and observed performance. functionality of the internal interfaces and edge about simple matters to build up knowledge about the operability of the external interfaces complex matters. consistency. 3/September 2015 . Churchman’s (1971) Modes of Inquiry as Elaborated with Design-Science Research (Elaborations Italicized) Mode of Inquiry Description Embodiment in Design-Science Leibnizian Fact Inquiry involves a closed system construction of “Fact Relevant fact nets with respect to the Nets Nets.Baskerville et al. Quality Criteria: Examples of quality criteria for nomothetic innovativeness.

reliability. Lincoln and Guba 1985). Petroski of the criteria for nomothetic knowledge and scientific 2009). knowledge. idiographic a particular problem setting or artifact which devises a course studies help elucidate the specific.g. Writing a mechanism for validation of a design through an instan. Winter 2008). most commonly cannot be overstated because the empirics in design-science seen in design-science research. innova- Quality Criteria: Examples of quality criteria include a mix tiveness. How- and how these settings interact with classes of artifacts. Third. These validation (proof) of a desirable inner–outer environmental include satisfactory explanations that provide an under- match across a pool of differing environments (inner and/or standing of the design and its setting. Molenaar (2004) asserted MIS Quarterly Vol. consistency.) knowledge described earlier.g. Lincoln and assess whether the knowledge is supported by adequate Guba 1985. Nature of Knowledge: The knowledge goals do not go Goal and Scope: In nomothetic science. internal Genre of Inquiry: Idiographic Science (IS) validity. Martin 2009. the scope does not go expressly beyond the particular instance at hand. It can also include intervention in a tions that can be availed through interactions or experience technical setting (e. idiographic see Argyris et al. “Empirically. Windelband and Oakes 1980). generalizability. 1985. ever. Schein 1987). or a specific artifact. 2013). triangulation. The Quality Criteria: Examples of quality criteria for knowledge knowledge role of the artifact could be discovered through a include a mix of the criteria for idiographic knowledge and field survey or a laboratory experiment that delivers concrete the criteria for design knowledge described earlier. dialogical reasoning. in the form of a prototype (Järvinen 2007. Idio- graphic science ranges from the particle theory studies of Genre of Inquiry: Idiographic Design (ID) Brownian motion in physics. p. contingent manner in of action that changes an existing situation into a preferred which a certain mix of causal powers has been formed and one (Simon 1996). idiographic design provides research often revolve around an individual artifact. The results may inform natural or behavioral theories prolonged engagements. (See Appendix B for more details on these criteria. as well as the relevant design theory. 39 No. for example. knowledge processes beyond what is necessary for the research-and-development aim at producing knowledge that is both nomothetic and of a specific product at hand.) The terms idiographic studies. inventiveness. artifact is similar to genre of inquiry nomothetic design (ND): edge and generalized theories about natural or social settings embodying the knowledge developed within the genre.. with the designs (Hook et al. Second. dependability. Researchers seek to develop generalized knowl. action science or clinical field work. COTS software or and methods to produce an ideal artifact for a specific apps) or studying the behaviors that result when an artifact problem. The knowledge role of the scientific.. Researchers seek to use their design knowledge ments for a mass-market artifact (e. Idiographic design primarily applies in a activated” (Tsoukas 1989. and objectivity (Guba 1981./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Genre of Inquiry: Nomothetic Science (NS) tiation. persistent observation. research employing outer). intensive research. (See Appendix B for more details on these criteria. The role of idiographic design insights can provide a basis for guiding design for science as a genre of inquiry in design-science research broader usage (von Hippel 1986). Its value arises from three aspects. and con- crete research are interchangeable (Tsoukas 1989). external validity. Nature of Knowledge: The role of knowledge is to represent truth in a law-like way that has been proven or validated. include the production of an acceptable similarity between expected and observed performance. 559). Nomothetic science proceeds from a systematic and validated study of an identifiable section of the population or a similar Goal and Scope: Knowledge processes aim at producing class of cases. trans- ferability. The objective of or principles such as contextualization. and suspicion (Gold- constructs that are advanced by the scientific community and stein and Goldstein 1978. and originality (Jones 2009. it systematic and validated study of a particular problem setting provides insights from the detailed and particular considera. Idiographic science is a local context. Further criteria validation. has been deployed across a pool of varying environments. science is to interpret the relationships posited between sensitivity to multiple interpretations. 3/September 2015 551 . Baskerville et al. Nomothetic science can be particularly knowledge that is both design knowledge and idiographic important in design-science research when studying require. Klein and Myers 1999. These classic scientific criteria include applicability. to the study of the time- dependent variation in behavior of a single individual person Idiographic design provides knowledge that is applicable to in psychology (Molenaar 2004). First. about the science of psychology.

The results may inform natural or behavioral Webster). Further criteria include credibility and confirmability supply.. differing individual designers and their unique design processes and genres of inquiry in any single study produce knowledge in activities. actual knowledge used in the design process might be very specific or highly abstract. 3/September 2015 . in time. confirming tion processes varies according to the needs of a specific point or disconfirming such theories). analysis is enabled by synthesis (Lawson 2005). flow of similar modes of thinking (adapted from Merriam- duction. design-science methodology. it is problematic to assign a design-science study to a single genre Goal and Scope: These knowledge processes aim at pro. described earlier. The is to scientifically examine. the design-science knowledge produc- theories as well as the relevant design theory (e. The notion of a dialogical reasoning.Baskerville et al. 107). and a communication that fulfills demand with supply (Guba 1981. That is. and suspicion (Goldstein and Goldstein 1978. the knowledge production does tualization of the artifact as an interface between the (unique) not always proceed in a linear (or even iterative) manner. at artifacts it produces. evaluate the complete study. thus requiring different kinds of justification criteria at different times. Lincoln and Guba 1985. These are satisfactory explanations that provide an understanding of the design and its setting. study can span multiple genres of inquiry. 216). Idiographic scientific knowl- 1972). (See Appendix B for (Herder et al. a brief unit of knowledge generation is integral to the is that of a vehicle for studying how individual behavior in the entire study without necessarily being part of a consistent unique setting might shift as a result of the artifact’s intro. design constructs. It is only after the researcher synthesizes a solution edge goes beyond establishing patterns of events./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research that science “can only become complete if it includes the Knowledge Moments idiographic point of view. For our purpose. Here. 39 No. ethnog. sensitivity to multiple interpretations. The main research objective iterative and cyclical nature of design-science research. Rather. at one time a generalized process. 552 MIS Quarterly Vol. We refer to vation. during the build-and-evaluate process. 2000). the knowledge role of the artifact cally. (Tsoukas 1989). depending upon the complexity of Nature of Knowledge: The ultimate objective is the genera- the design and the stage of the designing process (Simon tion of scientific knowledge. or principles such as contextualization. a knowledge 1980). action research. Because design settings are often another time an individualized process. with a given context. persistent obser. trig- gered by a specific need for knowledge and addressed by the Table 2 summarizes the knowledge goal and knowledge scope specific delivery of the knowledge in a manner that is aligned of each genre of inquiry. Windelband and Oakes process that encompasses a knowledge demand. a single design-science utility.g. we define a more details about these criteria. and so forth. of inquiry because a single genre will not have the requisite ducing idiographic scientific knowledge. different instances throughout their life cycle. functionality. Research techniques might be similar to change experiments. it that it becomes possible to detect and understand important seeks to understand the underlying causes. or the implications of design by conducting an in-depth examination of the interaction of a specific design This pluralism in knowledge production is consistent with the artifact within a specific setting. 2003. Moreover. and issues and requirements of a problem (Suwa et al. structures. articulate. research process is at one time a design process. design-science studies are Quality Criteria: Examples of quality criteria include a mix situated in real-world problems that further drive this episodic of the criteria for idiographic and scientific knowledge journey. that generative mechanisms responsible for the observed patterns is. at another edge related to an individual design process or the unique time a science process. and explicate knowl. each instance as a knowledge moment. case studies. requiring variety in Idiographic science can also be used to study the behavior of its justification and evaluation approaches. rather. p. For “inner environment or the organization of the artifact itself” example. alongside the nomothetic point of view” (p. variety in criteria or guidelines to adequately analyze and graphic science is to examine the properties. Design studies may draw from parallel design differing ways requiring differing kinds of criteria to properly fields and may study the use of design methods. this genre of inquiry echoes Simon’s (1996) concep. Lincoln and Guba 1985). The which it operates” (p. 7). triangulation. or effect of an individual artifact in a particular setting. Even with a stepwise unique. Due to the pluralistic nature of design-science research.) knowledge moment as a unit of knowledge processing. Klein and where a knowledge moment is a basic unit of knowledge Myers 1999. Design-science studies occupy different genres of inquiry at research employing prolonged engagements. Therefore. knowledge moment is adapted from knowledge management. the actual justify and evaluate the study results (Hart 2000). Design-science knowledge production is more episodic: typi- raphy. The goal of idio. the design- science researcher might discover that the solution to a speci- and the (unique) “outer environment or the surroundings in fic design problem is generalizable to similar situations.

interpretations. Example Idiographic Criteria: satisfactory explana- Idiographic tions that provide an understanding of the design and tions that provide an understanding of the design and its setting. structures. external validity. sensitivity to multiple interpretations. dialogical reasoning. prolonged engagements. and alization. embody the fundamental kinds of knowledge production that article. For example. and suspicion. Available Design Criteria: the production of an Example Scientific Criteria: credibility. method of conducting a study. Instead. 3/September 2015 553 . consistency. An entire design-science study. with respect to the distinct knowledge the science aspect to deliver the needed contextual criteria appropriate for those genres of inquiry. Example Scientific Criteria: internal validity and table similarity between expected and observed objectivity. performance. inventiveness. Available Idiographic Criteria: satisfactory explana. acceptable similarity between expected and observed dependability. at study may involve articulating each of the genres of inquiry another moment. general solution artifacts. causes. at a particular moment. and originality. evaluating it. inventiveness./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Table 2. design-science genres of inquiry are knowledge moments in different genres of inquiry. reliability. and the corresponding genre of inquiry into which knowledge across one or more genres. since the not mutually exclusive. whereas. external validity. justifying it. these settings interact with classes of artifacts. knowledge. sensitivity to multiple suspicion. and confirmability. innovativeness. innovativeness. Baskerville et al. the collective dualities this knowledge moment falls. prolonged engagements. artifact in a unique environment. and their theories about natural or social settings and how relationiships. and originality. transferability. the knowledge contributions of the teristics of a design aspect in its genre of inquiry. triangulation. generalizability. and generative mechanisms edge role of the artifact is one of materializing or responsible for observed patterns of an individual embodying this knowledge. generalizability. The knowl. neither are they stable. dialogical vation. persistent obser- vation. Example Nomothetic Criteria: applicability. or principles such as contextu- reasoning. reliability. Idiographic Design (ID) Knowledge Idiographic Scientific (IS) Knowledge Nature: Knowledge necessary for the research and Nature: Knowledge to understand the underlying development of an individual product. This momen. MIS Quarterly Vol. articulating its contributions are different for different genres. consistency. persistent obser. Example Design Criteria: production of an accep. It is important to visualize design-science studies as episodic Similar to literary genres. its setting. the context of a study because there is no one ideal knowledge category of design- might require inventive design knowledge with more charac. contextualization. 39 No. the research might demand more focus on that it might occupy. Knowledge Scope performance. or report cannot be classified as one knowledge type emerge from design-science studies. and tary change between contrasting knowledge goals in design. Four Genres of Inquiry of Design-Science Knowledge: Nature and Dynamic Criteria for Justification and Evaluation Design Knowledge Scientific Knowledge Nomothetic Design (ND) Knowledge Nomothetic Scientific (NS) Knowledge Nature: Knowledge applicable to general classes of Nature: Generalized knowledge and generalized design problems. transferability. science research. Nomothetic Example Nomothetic Criteria: applicability. science studies is important because the criteria for validating Since these genres of inquiry proceed from the presence of the this knowledge will differ depending upon the knowledge two dualities whose contrasting goals and scope can place moment. triangulation.

the design research at a given moment. evaluation. the knowledge this awareness stage. The Vaishnavi’s (2008) design-science research process: aware. but but rather a framework for improving the quality of the knowledge is still produced. when a design such a moment. Such a knowledge production moment may is likely to involve nomothetic science. Kuechler and genres of inquiry. work suggests a variety of processes for incorporation into and when. refinement). the nomothetic-tending knowledge sufficiently persistent? Was my reasoning sufficiently moments depend on the outcome of the idiographic-tending dialogical? Was there sufficient sensitivity to multiple knowledge moments (and vice versa). Science may occur or not. the researcher might want to investigate production is likely to involve idiographic science. Knowledge Overview: Abbasi and Chen’s (2008) CyberGate study production could involve a moment of idiographic science: develops a design framework for text analysis for computer- 554 MIS Quarterly Vol. Application of the Genre of Process and Methodology Inquiry Framework For design-science researchers. the researcher is likely to become immersed in learning about this design context. Rather. perhaps using another moment. The genre of inquiry framework would be available in each of Example 1: CyberGate: A Design Framework the reasoning activities in this methodology. The two dualities interpretations? describe a four-way dialectic through which a design-science research study may proceed as the study unfolds. designing to solve a problem. if and System for Text Analysis of Computer- there are efforts to develop knowledge about an exact Mediated Communication individual problem at hand. For example. Should the applicable to my setting? Will the survey sample and researcher become engaged in adapting these other designs to p-values support generalizability to a population that includes the current problem context. Such questions are among those driven by the criteria for a knowledge moment in the idiographic science genre of The appearance of a different genre of inquiry is dependent inquiry. For example. The appearance of one particular knowledge produced at any particular moment during any of knowledge moment after a different knowledge moment the stages of a design-science study’s methodology. measuring the constructs as expected? It is not likely that we will find any consistent or universal Such questions are among those driven by the criteria for a pattern of progress through these genres. knowledge production similar problem. Below we review two design-science studies to illustrate how.Baskerville et al. For example. at how this problem compares to other problems. knowledge consider such questions as: Will the results of the survey be production is likely to involve nomothetic design. If another moment fit into a nomothetic science genre of inquiry. the researcher is learning about how this a questionnaire method to survey other organizations about a problem compares to other problems. to produce scientific knowledge about the indi- of knowledge processes are interdependent in design-science vidual context. development. Similarly. and conclusion how such episodes collectively produce the major contribu- (with recognized opportunities for theory development and tions of the research. depends upon the knowledge product just produced. providing the researcher with indications of the occur as episodes according to the kind of thinking needed by quality of the knowledge being produced in such a moment. It is also valuable to separate the knowledge researcher is seeking to learn about the nature of a given moment from the methodological stage./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research The foundation in dualities also means that the different kinds basically. intention is to demonstrate the advantages of understanding ness. the genre of inquiry frame. the researcher studies. the researcher should have designed solutions to these other problems. In order to finds this researcher comparing and analyzing how others justify knowledge in this genre. If. a design-science study can appear in different research methodologies. It is also unlikely knowledge moment in the nomothetic science genre of that these are capricious. The science-tending knowledge moments depend on should consider such questions as: Are my activities a suffi- the outcomes of the design-tending knowledge moments (and cient engagement with this context? Are my observations vice versa). 39 No. and elaborate the interdependencies. The researcher is The genres of inquiry framework is not a methodology per se. 3/September 2015 . for example. and what kind of episode (or genre of inquiry) is needed next. during problem within a specific design context. To justify such knowledge. knowledge production is likely my own problem context? Are the items on the survey to involve idiographic design. Consider. Such considerations provide the researcher with upon the needs of a researcher at a particular point in the indications of the quality of the knowledge being produced in design-science study life cycle. the knowledge moments inquiry. suggestion.

To examine the actual behavior of Cyber tion of the CMC text analysis design theory. system means shifting to an idiographic design knowledge moment. meta-designs. articulating. p. The role of knowledge in this CyberGate to rather important phrases in the CyberGate design-science artifact development is to provide a rigorous basis for the study. we have identified three that correspond specific purpose. in fact. The main knowledge goal is to produce nomothetic fundamental principles (the design framework). This work involves idiographic knowledge about design processes. the work requires a edge in the form of meta-requirements. For example. 3/September 2015 555 . involves scientifically examining. terization. results of the experiments comparing the performance of CyberGate against the baseline performance of the support The quality criteria for validation of scientific knowledge in vector machine were significant. gulation occurs in the comparison of CyberGate results against baseline results from a support vector machine Genre of Inquiry Idiographic Design (ID): Although the through “experiments. 39 No. The design knowledge from the framework is generali. setting). the illustrate how it can be used empirically for data charac- main knowledge goal is to produce nomothetic design knowl. Abbasi and Chen conduct an in-depth examination of The researchers justify the knowledge produced by showing the interaction of Cybergate (a specific design artifact) in the it is consistent with the quality criteria of genre of inquiry context of the Enron e-mail database (a specific. The main contribution builds upon the also provide substantial details and output demonstrating the Walls et al. and chat. unique ND.” This 1994). the selection of various features for CyberGate. functioning of the various visualization techniques that are tion system design theory (ISDT). and study of CyberGate-in-use. The design exhibits inventive- being systemic functional linguistic theory (SFLT) (Halliday ness in such features as its “writeprints” and “ink blots. with the kernel theory part of the system’s features. rich description and by providing a chain of evidence linking tem. Baskerville et al. with similarity between the expected and instance of CMC text analysis systems based on the SFLT observed performance. detail where the actual results do not match the expectations. vidual instance). a knowledge moment in MIS Quarterly Vol. (1992) model for the formulation of an informa. the research exhibits (SVM)” (Abbasi and Chen 2008. and the implications of theory-based design of the system. In six of the nine subhypotheses. The researchers text analysis systems. using Enron’s e-mail database and multiple online discussion forums. textual. This framework embodies a set and Chen present a complex software system and include of general design principles for a class of systems that support satisfactory explanations that link to requirements that justify ideational. The knowledge of the science because the knowledge goal is scientific (systematic design framework and the associated guidelines are embodied generation of knowledge based on evidence) and the in the instantiation of the CyberGate system. The field testing knowledge scope is idiographic (evaluation of a single indi- of formally enunciated hypotheses provides concrete valida. This genre of inquiry ID is the application of design Moments of Genres of Inquiry: Although there may be other knowledge and methods to produce an ideal artifact for a knowledge moments. the guidelines of the CMC text analysis systems framework Credibility and confirmability have been ensured through a were used to develop an instantiation of the CyberGate sys. and explicating By designing and testing CyberGate. Abbasi and Chen instantiate their design theory in a evaluation demonstrates that CyberGate’s features do. 830). This knowledge is design of the artifact on sound design principles ensures that justified by its consistency with it kernel theory. and interpersonal analysis of computer. This design of a single instance of a CMC text analysis the data and the observations to the results. the supported design framework. Testing mediated text. Genre of Inquiry Idiographic Science (IS): There is another distinctively different knowledge moment in which Cyber Genre of Inquiry Nomothetic Design (ND): Consistent with Gate is applied in a practical setting (the Enron database) to their anchor in the Walls et al. concept of a design theory. The research process in this knowledge moment zable to text analysis systems using the kernel theory. genre of inquiry IS is demonstrated through persistent obser- vative application of CMC theories to novel areas displaying vation and measurement of the visualization results. The researchers different knowledge moments at other times. material instance artifact (CyberGate) which they evaluate work. The researchers also provide guidelines for the demonstrates similarity between the expected features of a selection of the features and visualization techniques for CMC text analysis system and the software artifact. In terms of the quality criteria for genre of inquiry ID. At that knowledge moment./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research mediated communication (CMC) systems such as e-mail. Trian- minimally incremental inventiveness. To justify dependability. knowledge related to the process of designing a specific strate dependability. Basing the design knowledge (genre of inquiry ND). moments. Gate. Abbasi discussion forums. the researchers demon. The design delivers an inno. but further the design is well grounded and validates the fundamentals of justification drives distinctively different knowledge the design principles. SFLT. where the write-prints or ink blots knowledge generated by the nomothetic design process technique was compared against support vector machine delivers the main knowledge goal.

Baskerville et al. health-care supply chains. A running threading of VSM into VEM provides consistency and case illustrates the steps in VEM. Overview: Rosenkranz and Holten’s (2011) variety engi- neering method (VEM) reconstructs the conceptual language The quality criteria for nomothetic science are applicable to aspects of the viable systems model (Beer 1989). systems theory. The nomothetic science knowledge moments occur Example 2: The Variety Engineering Method: when formalizing the specification of the underlying VSM by Analyzing and Designing Information Flows extending a language-based meta-model and by applying the in Organizations VEM to different field studies. This case is grounded in internal validity. The channels from the systems perspective model. the research has different prototype) in multiple field settings to conduct a rigorous knowledge moments. 3/September 2015 . modeling language (and their relationships) into a language. 39 No. 41-43). the VEM method was developed by knowledge moment delivering knowledge produced under a drawing upon theoretical concepts from organization theory./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Genre ND Genre NS Nomothetic Nomothetic Design Science KM1: Using SFLT KM2: KM3: CMC Text Applying CMC Analysis to Enron System Database Genre ID Genre IS Idiographic Idiographic Design Science Figure 2. The scientific knowledge is generalizable to various field studies that demonstrate the stages and iterations the mapping of organizational information flows. 38). enhancement and critique” (p. For example. The evaluation and to extend the VSM with language views. The main field studies operated against a pool of different contexts. Transfer- of the development process. The the field studies resulting in the configuration and redesign of researchers consolidate the constructs of the conceptual VEM (Table 3 in Rosenkranz and Holten 2011. knowledge goal is to extend VSM with language views. and cybernetics. is to “specify and formalize the VSM. As proof-of-concept. The researchers also conducted micro-evaluations by applying based meta-model and assign the conceptual language to field studies during different stages of its development to representational language views. pp. with and without the prototype. Figure 2 illus. Genre of Inquiry Nomothetic Design (ND): Although the Genre of Inquiry Nomothetic Science (NS): The research knowledge generated by the nomothetic science process may analyzes the interaction of the artifact (the VEM model and deliver the main knowledge goal. Rosenkranz and Holten propose a 556 MIS Quarterly Vol. 39). different set of criteria (genre of inquiry IS). The motivation for doing so trates these three knowledge moments in the CyberGate study. the ability is demonstrated by evaluating the model in field researchers instantiate VEM as a prototype software tool: a studies in different organizational environments such as material instance artifact that can infer the information banking. providing the general steps rigorously demonstrate applicability (p. and construction. CyberGate (Abbasi and Chen 2008): Knowledge Moments idiographic design (genre of inquiry ID) was required. The meticulous for modeling an organization’s information flows. This development of a material artifact and the study of its process requires distinct nomothetic science knowledge behavior in a specific environment entailed yet a different moments.” thereby making it “accessible for formal analysis.

Basing the design of the VEM method design-science research and other. the study laid the groundwork innovative approach in which “each field study added to and for situating VEM in an applied setting. This knowledge moment is justified by its consistency. we have identified three prominent ones. and defining the relationship between internal validity. Genre of Inquiry Idiographic Design (ID): At a different Figure 3 shows the knowledge moments for VEM. but generalizability. 13). By kranz and Holten study demonstrates inventiveness in its engaging in nomothetic design. 24-38) using a running their relationships. This single instance of VEM requires an idio- graphic design. They also evaluation criteria. suitability for a prototype development. To make the model transferable to other require the study to be in distinctively different knowledge similar situations that analyze and map information flows. and inventiveness. This development of a design (pp. “The method Rosenkranz and Holten explain and justify the construction of consists of a modeling language providing constructs and the VEM method (see Section 5. The need to justify the models meant designing an Rosenkranz and Holten provide detailed steps and guidelines artifact (genre of inquiry ID). prolonged engagement./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research general method to address the problem of analyzing and In terms of the quality criteria for genre of inquiry ID. action guidelines and a step-for-step example. 39). The researchers justify their idiographic state that their meta-model can be analyzed and compared design knowledge by its persistence with a prolonged running with meta-models of other interpretations of VSM (Siau and example. defining NS). approaches to scholarly research. general theoretical knowl. in point of fact they examine a general problem and work as expected. By providing a meta-model. There efficient artifact rather than new. For more conventional MIS chain case. MIS Quarterly Vol. propose a general process model. Although Rosenkranz Extensive details and output show the construction and and Holten stress that the study is aimed at producing an application of VEM. perhaps more conven- on sound design principles not only ensures that the design is tional. moments. and contextualization. Claims of applicability the constructs. By applying VEM in different field studies and able similarity between expected and observed performance. similarity between expec- tations and achieved performance. The VEM method is applied to model the Discussion information flows in the exemplary supply chain. The logical endogenous because the pluralism is driven from the variety instantiation of the VEM method provides a design found within a design-science research study (moments in representation within the unique context of a health supply differing genres of inquiry). Fundamentally. The knowledge is extended the method” (p. This extensive example provides persistent obser- procedure model explicating the process of how to analyze vation. justified by seeking transferability. 35-38). the genres of inquiry advances model through iterations between genre of inquiry ID and previous research by clarifying the differences between genre of inquiry ND. and accept- Rossi 1998). we have articulated and illustrated a refined flows in organizations” (p. Baskerville et al. designing information flows in organizations. but also helps strengthen the fundamentals of is that design-science studies necessarily exhibit an endog- the design principles through an idiographic design validation enous kind of pluralism in their knowledge production. enous. a general language for situating VEM in applied settings. The step-by-step description of the healthcare research studies. but now regards the specific approach to justifying and evaluating the knowledge produced design problem of “introducing and sketching the notation in design-science research. 25). a method. The main knowledge goal of the VEM paper This knowledge is justified with respect to the quality criteria is to produce nomothetic science knowledge (genre of inquiry for nomothetic design. However. knowledge moment. the researchers were ultimately able to To justify applicability and transferability (genre of inquiry arrive at a level of utility that demonstrates the similarity ND). 39 No. Rosenkranz and Holten’s research in- volved configuration of VEM in a “healthcare supply-chain” case (p. This knowledge was produced in a knowledge moment where the knowledge goals Moments of Genres of Inquiry: Although there may be other and scope align with nomothetic design. for a prototype artifact demands different justification and ability is deferred to a subsequent research project. pp. The Rosen. This framework offers novel and components of VEM” (p. The scope of knowledge in this genre of inquiry no longer addresses “the By developing the genres of inquiry framework for design- general problem of analyzing and designing information science research. 3/September 2015 557 . The role of knowledge in this substantive ways in which to rethink how we conduct our artifact design is to provide proof of concept and refine the research. including the language notations. Our central finding well grounded. and between expectations and achieved performance. and generalizability. the constructs of VEM. any pluralism is instead regarded as exog- supply chain case demonstrates VEM’s functionality. It is of the VSM and associated language notations. 13). is convincing evidence that the designed features of VEM edge. 25). and design information flows” (p. the researchers constructed a meta-model. This is characteristic of the scholarly discipline itself. developing it further. the study provides a platform for nomothetic and transferability depend upon further justification. knowledge moments in this study. any demonstration of this transfer.

It shows how Hevner’s (2007) build-and-evaluate cycle a desirable feature of this amalgamation. one design-science study could be all three whether theory ought to be considered at all (Baskerville et al. Table 3 illustrates claims about generality. It embodies not only design. Design is often an inventive and generative or justifying the design-science research results. an endogenous pluralism. even when it inquiry highlighting its value.Baskerville et al. (Indeed. pp. but are con- Banville and Landry 1989)./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Genre ND Genre NS Nomothetic Nomothetic Design Science KM2: KM1: Defining VEM Meta-Model and Specify and Constructs Formalize VSM KM3: Configuring VEM in Healthcare Supply Chain Case Genre ID Genre IS Idiographic Idiographic Design Science Figure 3. Specifically. p. as pre- associate theory with higher level outputs and instantiated viously developed in natural sciences (such as physics) and artifacts with lower level outputs. but also how three prominent viewpoints of design-science research well-recognized principles of idiographic science. (2008. Different inquiry tion. and not the quality of the knowledge itself. this elaboration allows us to recognize and value propositional (generative design as a mode of art production) the presence of nomothetic design and idiographic science in under the domain of a propositional activity (analytical design-science research. an earlier version social sciences (such as psychology) (Molenaar 2004). 39 No. The result. of this article operated similarly. have led to disagreements among observers over how design and another could be a case study (Banville and Landry can be scientific. individual artifact designed for. see Baskerville et al. 834) declare two contributions: “a design frame- 558 MIS Quarterly Vol. they sarily map globally to any particular genres of inquiry. 2010.” and 1989). Lee et al. previous analyses involves a single. One conflate the abstraction level of knowledge with the type of framework regards the potential of the knowledge. as on the nature of the study. regards the justification of the knowledge. of design-science research focus on contribution and have and being evaluated in. such as those in Table 3. For example. a single individual setting with no privileged theory as higher level outputs. It also clarifies how instance design research). 105-106). For example. They study could be experimental. is ment. mental activity. the other knowledge. built for. 2015. with the genres of can be conducted as a scientific process. we reveal four kinds of indicates that it arises from simply strange bedfellows: design knowledge production with four distinct ways of evaluating and science. one could be action research. VEM (Rosenkranz and Holten 2011): Knowledge Moments as one that engenders research studies from multiple research Such associations may be useful for analyzing the potential of paradigms (MIS itself has long had this kind of pluralism. depending individual artifacts.) Because these viewpoints regard the potential. Abbasi and Chen are designing and artifact instantiation. 3/September 2015 . By unpacking the issue of knowl- What gives rise to this endogenous pluralism? Our research edge goal from knowledge scope. Österle et al. Goes 2014. or more: a single study’s pluralism is endogenous. Theorizing and science are associated. see knowledge produced in design-science studies. Science is associated with generality or abstrac. Design is perceived as being “inherently non. Hovorka 2010. 2011. Lee et al. do not neces- contribution. However. and how science can be “designly. whereas science is often deductive and analytical. or level of Levels of contribution. 2012. resulting in logical difficulties” (Groat and Wang work can itself be scientific. Exogenous pluralism means one fusing when justifying or evaluating that knowledge. whereas design is associated with specific situations or genres may produce different contribution levels. not just a scientific accoutre- 2002. 2010).

not only with design- also declare two contributions: “the method for the analysis science criteria. 39 No.” and “the Once design-science knowledge production is distinctly Cybergate system. models. science be judged by appropriate criteria. but with any of the full range of other estab- and design of information flows” and “an elaborate formal lished scholarly criteria. technological abstract that ISDT) rules Artifact as situated Artifact Situated artifacts. Abbasi and Chen discuss their genres of inquiry also elaborate models of ideal design- “application example” (p. It is. The contributions. it can still provide useful and others. Level 2 explanatory/ predictive methods. we can fit well- tion in the Gregor and Hevner (2013) framework (see Table established sets of scholarly knowledge criteria into our 3). involved in the empirical disquisition of the system. Sein et al. 3/September 2015 559 . rather than the generalizability. they In addition. a level 2 contribution The genres of inquiry elaborate existing design-science is justified by genre ND. 14) scholars can justify their findings. and guidelines (such as those for design-science itself.. p. exactly how moments of science/design/idiographic/ work been available to clarify the idiographic science nomothetic knowledge production can inhabit all three cycles. In our analysis framework. see MIS Quarterly Vol. justify the moments of knowledge production that occur when following the frameworks. In our examples. stages.g. at another time. operational • Information systems operational principles or principles design theory (ISDT) architecture including • Design relevant constructs. or phases of such design- Although the genres of inquiry framework is primarily science methodologies as those suggested by Peffers et al. Vaishnavi and Kuechler (2007). However. time a level 3 contribution is justified by knowledge produced in genre of inquiry ND. evaluate. Baskerville et al. thus. and the latter is justified in genre of inquiry ID. a many-to-many methodologies. 2011) itself. while the latter is a level 2 contribution. It places design-science scholars on specification of the underlying Viable System Model. and relationship. p. 834). For example. They can be similarly used within differing pointers for distinguishing different types of design-science design-science project strategies (e. (2011). Had the genres of inquiry frame. separated according to goals and scope. see Sein et al. It also serves the “imperative that papers in design 3).” The former fits well as a level 3 contribu. the former arises from genre of inquiry ND. They can be used to identify. implementation instantiated software products or implemented Level 1 processes work for systems supporting CMC text analysis. and yet provide whereas the latter arises in genre ID. concerned with the justification and evaluation of knowledge (2007). design theory (DREPT) (more principles.” Both equal footing with scholars using more conventional research fit well with descriptions of a level 2 contribution (see Table methods. even within a single study. Iivari 2015). Knowledge Contribution Versus Knowledge Justification Design-Science Research Knowledge Scope Knowledge Scope Kuechler and Gregor and Hevner Contribution Conflated with Distinguished from Purao 2002 Vaishnavi 2012 2013 Level Knowledge Goal Knowledge Goal Emergent theory General Well-developed design supporting a explanatory/kernel theories about embedded phenomenon theory phenomena including Level 3 mid-range and grand design theories Knowledge as Mid-range theories: Nascent design theory. we found the former is justified in genre of inquiry set of knowledge criteria cannot provide an adequate means ND./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Table 3. The endogenous pluralism explains why a single above. the genres of inquiry extend existing principles might have better recognized the contribution of the example (such as those for action design research. only within the context of science. vii). Depending on the knowledge moment. at one tangible contribution to knowledge” (Goes 2014. In a different example. such as Hevner’s three-cycle model by identifying other major contributions. Rosenkranz and Holten (2011. to justify or evaluate design-science research findings.

edge (Gregor and Jones 2007. There is less design-science research edge goals and scope drive the identification of knowledge that investigates artifact behavior in a population of settings. clinical research methods anchored to theorizing from indi. 43). not just prior to them. thus. Walls et researchers who are undertaking a design-science study and al. strong design-science from poor. Thus. Such principles and guidelines are some. p. identifies the elements needed to assess the validity of a concerned with justifying and evaluating the knowledge study./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Hevner et al. It is not clear that this is an ideal process. Further means for justifying and evaluating the quality of the knowl. activities based upon a continuous evaluation of the science studies.. evaluate. An investigation of the central role of knowledge in prototyping. such as kernel theories or justificatory knowl. Understanding the knowl- population of settings. articulation of the Nomothetic science often involves an engagement by design. This times used as criteria for distinguishing design-science from lacuna may be due to resource constraints for researchers. but incom. adding a dimension for theorizing concepts (such as Myers 1999. Much of this foundational work reflects a common association of In practical terms. within which a design-science research study might 560 MIS Quarterly Vol.. research more approachable and less confusing. required to ascertain whether the dynamics of the genres of inquiry operate in research paradigms other than design- The genres of inquiry framework fills other gaps in the litera. and relationships” (Bacharach Similarly. or more conventional research studies.g. there are differing criteria for nomothetic or idiographic knowledge production. market artifact involves transitioning to an industrial setting The genres of inquiry supplement this guidance with detailed that is largely esoteric and incremental (Frost 1999). The quality of scientific knowledge goes beyond the inquiry framework provides a refined approach to doing so. As with other forms of knowledge production. genres of inquiry of design-science studies. variables. These are fine starting points. the genres of inquiry framework for particular settings.. the results of our work should be useful to science with theories having accurate generality. 3/September 2015 . this paper 1989. Conclusion Despite the seeming predisposition to nomothetic science and This paper has analyzed the role of knowledge production in the lack of acknowledgement to idiographic science. further research could apply the framework to an work in design-science has mainly associated justification ongoing study in order to dynamically adjust research with foregoing or background knowledge used by design. The genres of inquiry framework also provides the means to extend these Future research is needed to explore possible elaborations of established criteria for knowledge production in design (e. It tend to start small and then explode later into vast usage. science.g. we design nomothetically. 506). much of design-science research with respect to two dualities: the current empirical work in design-science actually engages (1) design and science and (2) nomothetic and idiographic science in an idiographic way. graphic or nomothetic. make design-science researcher to identify whether his or her theorizing is idio. research has significant usefulness for authors and reviewers For example. Recognizing the multigenre nature of design-science produced within design-science studies. Although we have used the genres of inquiry ture around design-science studies. quality criteria for each. Walls et al. production criteria in both design and science. instead. for example. idiographic science offers a wide range of engaged in publishing the results of a research effort. for Martin 2009. Lincoln and Guba 1985) into the new arena of parsimony versus richness). “utility of constructs. This kind of science may be a more suitable to identify the appropriate justification and evaluation approach for studying earthshaking technological changes that required for each knowledge moment a study encounters. the quality of the knowledge produced because the genres-of- plete. Additional investigation is also design-science studies. Klein and example. 39 No. or a population of artifacts in one or more settings. moments. often involving some form of research. center the “class of problems” and “class of need to understand how to appropriately justify and evaluate artifacts” (p. research is needed to better justify. Much of the existing reflectively. weak design-science. or for distinguishing it may be that translating a nomothetic design into a mass- good. for a reviewer of design-science studies. The genres of inquiry framework is. knowledge being produced. That is. This framing should. and intertwine edge production: relying on the well-established knowledge nomothetic design with nomothetic science. Adopting the genre of inquiry framework enables researchers vidual cases. and identification of the interdepen- science researchers aimed at developing requirements from a dence of these genres of inquiry. Petroski 2009) and science (e. we evaluate terms of its goals and scope led to the distinction of four idiographically. 1992).Baskerville et al. 2004). also helps to divide the reporting of a complex and extensive design-science study into logical sections (or even manu- The genres of inquiry framework raises the possibility for a scripts). theorizing is contextualized by its scope.

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pp. R. 2007. degrees from Warfield. 91-113.A.1057/ Systems Analysis)... research interests are in conceptual modeling.. pp. J. R. and S-Invention of Design Requirements: Important Vehicles for Perth. pp. pp. Bursa. University. 564 MIS Quarterly Vol. J. methods of information systems design and development. and health information tech- von Hippel. E. “Building manufacturing.” Management Science (32:7).” The Journal of Manage. N. Contrastive or research focuses on information systems design methodology. She has served as a guest senior editor for MIS Richard L. She has published in MIS Quarterly. 2014. Richard Vaishnavi.” Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical evaluation methods.D. Gero. India. McCullagh.. 1980. T. finance. and Rosales. E. Storey is the Tull Professor of Computer Information bution to Is Design Science Knowledge?. and Purcell. B. pp.. A. Her current 2013. Conducive?.” Knowledge in Society: The International Journal Systems Department. and Verdonschot.” Academy of Management Review (14:4). V. Systems professional in a wide variety of verticals including Walls. and Ph. 195-201. consumeri- Materials (21:0). professional Communication Technology.Baskerville et al. His tions. G. H. 2008.” Design and Management of Information Systems. and El Sawy. “What Is a Contri. “Science Versus Design. “FEDS: A School of Economics. A. Information Systems Research. Widmeyer. She has extensive industry experience as an Information Concepts.” Design Studies (21:6).. Business at Georgia State University..2014. Mala Kaul is an assistant professor of Information Systems in the Reilly. pp..D. Her research has been Windelband. 2014. Baskerville is a Board of Advisors Professor in the Quarterly for special issues in design science research and business Department of Computer Information Systems. and International Journal of E-Collaboration. Reno. and design science research. Catapano. cybersecurity and privacy issues. University of London (M. His research specializes in security of information a Design Process. Australia.S. in Industrial and International Economics from Kanpur Information Systems Research (3:1). A and Grounded Technological Rules. W. 1989. K. G. Science. Journal of Information Systems (17:5). Robinson College of Business. Her NZ. Niederer. and Professor (partial appoint.. “Unexpected Discoveries ment) in the School of Information Systems at Curtin University.” European Workshop on Information Technology and Systems. FL: Auerbach magazines. College of Business at the University of Nevada. pp. 1990. 2004. “The Validity of Idiographic Research Explana. She received her MBA and Ph. hc). 1992. 551-561..Sc. systems. E. A. J. in the Robinson College of of Knowledge Transfer (3:4). Design Science is the author of Designing Information Systems Security (John Research Methods and Patterns: Innovating Information and Wiley) and more than 200 articles in scholarly journals. 791-805. interest in methods extends to qualitative research methods.. Richard holds degrees from the University of ment Studies (41:2). A. van der Houwen.. 39 No. “History and Natural presented at the International Conference on Information Systems. and the interaction of information systems and organizations. J. the University of Pretoria (Ph.” History and Theory (19:2). J./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Suwa. 1986. pp. Comparable. P. Verkerke. G. Boca Raton.D. 539-567. and IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering. Saghafi. Veda C. zation of information technology.36) Roskilde University (Dr. A. hc). O.. and edited books. 3/September 2015 . summa cum laude. committee of the International Conference on Conceptual Modeling.. “Generic Planning: Research Results and the Managerial Sciences Department and the Computer Information Applications. Mottaghy. Tsoukas. European Journal Information Systems (doi: 10. Pries-Heje. Management). 165-168. Mack 35th International Conference on Information Systems. Woo. “Design Science Research in Europe. intelligent information systems. ACM Transactions on About the Authors Data Bases. Georgia State University.” in Proceedings of the Systems and Professor of Computer Science at the J. the London Venable.Sc.Com an Information System Design Theory for Vigilant EIS. 2000. and ejis. K. Auckland.. and Kuechler. Maryland (B. 219-246.. J. V. R. P. Analysis. Framework for Evaluation in Design Science Research. “Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product nology.. She received her B. He is editor emeritus for The Euro- Publications.. G. respectively. Segers. and Baskerville. pp. 36-59. C.. “Management Research Based on the boards of Information Systems Journal. J. and Oakes. pean Journal of Information Systems and serves on the editorial van Aken. Georgia State University... R. Broekhuis. P. and hospitality. G. W. Journal of Information Paradigm of the Design Sciences: The Quest for Field-Tested Systems Security.. December 14-17. N. and the Winter. the Americas Conference on Information Systems. She currently serves on the steering Business. 470-475. M.” and M. Chartered Engineer. Robinson College of intelligence and data analytics. Rogalewicz. J..

A.S.edu} Appendix A Terms: Application and Use in Management Information Systems Design-Science Research Term Application and Use Design (verb) The term design (verb) connotes the act of planning or creating something for a specific purpose or process that is goal-oriented. 7). Bentley WA 6102 AUSTRALIA Mala Kaul Department of Accounting and Information Systems. GA 30303 U. (2) knowledge of the constraints imposed and affordances provided by the inner and outer environments. and (4) understanding of the effects of design decisions. improving situations.A. Atlanta. Georgia State University. Design is concerned with how things ought to be in order to attain goals (Simon 1996). or creating something new or useful (Friedman 2003). (3) mechanisms to produce design alternatives. Atlanta.org} and School of Information Systems. meeting needs. GA 30303 U. {baskerville@acm. It connotes the process by which one devises “courses of action aimed at changing existing situa- tions into preferred ones” (Simon 1996. Curtin University. 39 No.S. {mkaul@unr. where the goal is solving problems. University of Nevada. p. Reno. 19). Baskerville Department of Computer Information Systems. College of Business. Storey Department of Computer Information Systems. Design is a central activity of information systems practitioners (Denning 1997. 3—Appendices/September 2015 A1 .S. Design (noun) Design (noun) is concerned with how things ought to be in order to attain goals (Simon 1996).A. MIS Quarterly Vol. with respect to articulated goals” (Niederman and March 2012. NV 89557 U. 1664 N. Robinson College of Business. A human being makes such changes by applying the knowledge needed to develop a new artifact. Georgia State University. “Design cannot proceed without (1) an articulation of the goals of the designed artifact. {vstorey@gsu. p.edu} Veda C. Curtin Business School. Robinson College of Business. Reno. RESEARCH ESSAY GENRES OF INQUIRY IN DESIGN-SCIENCE RESEARCH: JUSTIFICATION AND EVALUATION OF KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION Richard L. It involves changing a given system to make improvements. Niederman and March 2012). Virginia Street.

Knowledge goals Goal is the end toward which effort is directed (Merriam-Webster Online 2015). pp. implementation plans. Design knowledge goals are generative and inventive. Design-science is characterized by a duality present in essential knowledge goals. Knowledge establishes robust relationships in a given domain. 1984). Idiographic knowledge Idiographic knowledge processes involve the study of particular cases (Bullock et al. the instrumental outcomes of design- science. Nomothetic knowledge Nomothetic knowledge processes produce general theories or concepts that cover the entire classes of a given case (Allport 1962). so that any one aspect cannot exist independently but rather as a whole (Giddens 1979. rather than an optimum design. 3—Appendices/September 2015 . and product designs. “the shape of the design and the shape and organization of the design process are essential components of a theory of design” (Simon 1996. Duality is distin- guishable from dualism. activity. Laszlo 1972). evolutionary worldviews (Jantsch 1980). Duality Duality. and varieties of holism in pragmatism and contextualism (Rescher 2000). Knowledge constitutes a representation of the outside world (Piaget and Wells 1972). Knowledge can be scholarly because it relates to design theories. Knowledge A broad view of scholarly knowledge encompasses scholarly knowledge based on erklären (the causal explanations common in positivist science). 545). scientific knowledge goals are conventional and systematic. The standards of a genre help a researcher by clarifying the way in which a particular community will receive new work (Hacking 2012). 1988). p. or influence (Merriam-Webster Online 2015).. 130-131). Knowledge is classified as descriptive or prescriptive with prescriptive belonging to science of the artificial (Simon 1996). Knowledge criteria Concepts regarding the quality of knowledge. 130-131). according to Eastman (2004). pp. In duality. Idiographic knowledge scope is local and pertaining to a particular case or problem. whether the world is natural or artificial. triggered by a specific need for knowledge and addressed by the specific delivery of the knowledge in a manner that is aligned with a given context (Herder et al.g. Knowledge scope Scope is the extent of treatment. Criteria are necessary for researchers to justify their knowledge claims. Knowledge moment A unit of knowledge processing. denotes a comprehensive view similar to the notion of holism that exists in philosophical approaches such as in systems theory (Auyang 1999. but also scholarly knowledge based on verstehen (the shared understanding common in interpretive science) (Lee 1994)./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Term Application and Use Design process The design process is concerned with finding a satisfactory design. paired elements” (Jackson 1999. Genre of inquiry Genres of inquiry are modes of reasoning that arise within the context of the philosophical assumptions.Baskerville et al. process Concerned with finding a satisfactory design. 39 No. hierarchy or complexity theory (Kauffman 1993). Knowledge captures the structure of the world. 2003). Knowledge creation Activities in a research study that develop or support development of original knowledge. “the shape of the design and the shape and organization of the design process are essential components of a theory of design” (Simon 1996. A2 MIS Quarterly Vol. Knowledge role The purpose or purposes served by artifacts in design-science studies in relation to the knowledge claims of the study. Design-science is characterized by the duality present in essential knowledge scope. The knowledge process establishes the merit of the knowledge claim. a change of parameters in a model as in a change in an experimental setting). interdependent elements are characterized by emergent powers. relationships do not change under interventions (e. rather than an optimum design. nomothetic knowledge scope is more global and applicable to a general class of cases. which is “the division of an object of study into separate. and construction processes (Carlsson 2006). and by their audience to evaluate these claims. Knowledge claims A statement asserting original knowledge arising from the research study.

S. pp. It values the existence of different perspectives in scientific research (Kellert et al. pp. Introduction to Systems Philosophy: Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought. H. T.” Communications of the ACM (40:2). Moisander and Stenfors 2009). by careful consideration. “Towards an Information Systems Design Research Framework: A Critical Realist Perspective. Lee.” in Proceedings of the First International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology. Giddens. Albany. 599-609. A. CA. Research is “original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and under- standing. Bullock. Cambridge. 1997. Willcocks (eds. I.” Design Studies (24:6)... New York: Gordon and Breach. pp. Longino. 1984. 1994. Lee. 1999. 1972. 3—Appendices/September 2015 A3 . scholarship.. 39 No. Claremont. The Self Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications. and Methods.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A (43:4). W. Baskerville et al.. 1962. Scientific Pluralism. References Allport. 2006. 2006. New York: Pergamon Press. NY: State University of New York Press.. topic. Stallybrass. where these lead to new or substantially improved insights. and Waters. A. Chichester. MIS Quarterly Vol. T. S. “Electronic Mail as a Medium for Rich Communication: An Empirical Investigation Using Hermeneutic Interpretation. performances.” Journal of Knowledge Management (7:3). Friedman. pp. and Schaller. In information systems. Newbury Park. Berkeley. S. and to the public and voluntary sectors. A. Lincoln. K. 326). 2006). Laszlo. UK: Cambridge University Press. Jantsch. devices. pp. and Eadie. K. and Guba. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 1993. 2012. 1979. Hacking. or study of a subject (OED Online 2013).” American Sociological Review (48:6). The Constitution of Society: Introduction of the Theory of Structuration. “Follow the Rainbow: A Knowledge Management Framework for New Product Introduction. Research (verb) To engage in research upon (a subject). G. 143-157. and the History of Science (Lee 2004). “Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists.” MIS Quarterly (18:2). The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (2nd ed. 1984. Buitenhuis. A. pp. 132-134. images.). “A New Social Contract for Research. It is an intellectual and practical activity that incorporates systematic methodology and knowledge based on coherent concepts that are anchored to evidence (Lincoln and Guba 1985). CA: University of California Press. etc. pp. the academic term is just as subject to the same breath of interpretation as in the fields of Philosophy of Science. E. A. Kauffman. Kellert. E. Naturalistic Inquiry. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Duality Without Dualism. 405-422. S. London: Fontana Press. S. 105-115. Mingers and L. Carlsson. Herder. and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials. Springfield. Truth and Reason’ 30 Years Later. “Theory Construction in Design Research: Criteria: Approaches. P. P.. W. MA: Merriam-Webster. 1999. the invention and generation of ideas. J.” Journal of Personality (30:3). 192-212. Duality and the Complexity of Economic Institutions. “‘Language.. Y. Denning. pp. G. 507-522.. “The General and the Unique in Psychological Science. Y. A. including design and construction” (Paul 2008. 1-26. 545-558. F. Process. 1980. 2004. “Thinking About Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems. Trombley. CA: University of California Press. UK: Wiley.” in Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems. Scientific pluralism Scientific pluralism is a stance about the theories and methods of science according for which the explanation of some natural phenomena requires multiple theories and approaches. observation.” International Journal of Social Economics (26:4). Merriam-Webster Online. and Experience.). 14-30. Giddens. Foundations of Complex-System Theories. Auyang. M. Berkeley.. H. Veeneman. 2003. 2015. Jackson. pp. CA: SAGE Publications. p. Inc. Gieryn. S. 781-795. B. A. 2003. P.” in Physics and Whitehead: Quantum. E. Science Usage of the term science varies widely according to social and political contexts (Gieryn 1984. Central Problems in Social Theory: Action./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Term Application and Use Research (noun) Research involves systematic investigation or inquiry aimed at contributing to knowledge of a theory. W. Sociology of Science. industry. M. O. products and processes. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce. The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution. C. S. to investigate or study closely (OED Online 2013). 1985. E. Eastman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. artefacts including design. S. “Dualism. Structure and Contradictions in Social Analysis.. 1988. A. A. 2004.

1996. and March. 2000. Piaget. 2013.” ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems (3:1)..Baskerville et al. 39 No. Rescher. H. 85 Travis 1999 observation order to develop “an understanding of the essential characteristics” or pervasive qualities. New York: Penguin Harmondsworth. S. testing. 1972. P. “Measuring Research Quality: The United Kingdom Government’s Research Assessment Exercise. Cambridge. Albany. 227-247. Psychology and Epistemology: Towards a Theory of Knowledge. pp. Simon.” Organization (16:2). 324-329.. R. The Sciences of the Artificial (3rd ed). Oxford English Dictionary. Paul. OED Online. Thus. 2012. “Design Science and the Accumulation of Knowledge in the Information Systems Discipline. Realistic Pragmatism: An Introduction to Pragmatic Philosophy. T. 1993 including learning. 19-35. UK: Oxford University Press. Persistent “Extended interaction with a situation or a milieu” in Guba 1981. J. NY: State University of New York Press. A4 MIS Quarterly Vol.. and Stenfors. S. Persistent observation adds salience to the Lincoln and Guba immersion of the researcher through prolonged 1985 engagement by helping identify those characteris- tics and elements that are most relevant to the problem. MA: MIT Press. J. 2008. “Exploring the Edges of Theory-Practice Gap: Epistemic Cultures in Strategy-Tool Development and Use. Oxford. J. pp.” European Journal of Information Systems (17:4). while prolonged engagement provides scope. N. Appendix B Quality Criteria Derived for Genres of Inquiry Illustrative Examples of Criteria Definition Sources Criteria Use Prolonged Prolonged engagement includes the investment of Lincoln and Guba Creswell and Miller 2000 engagement sufficient time to achieve research purposes 1985 Erlandson et al. 2009. Niederman. F. pp. persistent observation provides depth of understanding./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Moisander. The investigator is Onwuegbuzie and Leech involved with the research sufficiently long to 2007 develop an appreciation of the local environment. p. 3—Appendices/September 2015 . Shenton 2004 Spending an extended period (at a site) allows Guba 1981 locals to adjust to the presence of the researcher and also allows the researcher to evaluate his or her own developing perceptions. and Wells. A.

and theoretical triangulation. 1999 zation. 72). certain situations. Investigator triangulation: If a research design is emergent. 72). competing explanations may sensitivity to arise. Denzin Markus 1994 describes four different types of triangulation: data Denzin 1978 Myers 1997 triangulation. which “requires sensitivity to possible contradictions between the theoretical preconceptions guiding the research design and actual findings” (p. Theoretical triangulation: The value of this strategy is the assurance that each study will be conducted with some theoretical perspective. Principles The principle of contextualization “requires critical Klein and Myers 1999 Duranti and Goodwin (e. 1966 the particular interaction that the investigator has with the phenomena. and its form depends ultimately on Webb et al. 1. or alternately different sources of the same information./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Illustrative Examples of Criteria Definition Sources Criteria Use Triangulation Triangulation is the process of improving the Lincoln and Guba Jick 1979 probability of the findings through different means. so that the intended audience Wegerif et al. in reasoning. 91) Klein and Myers (1999) described a similar notion as dialogical reasoning. George and Bennett (2005) discuss the multiple importance of examining alternative and perhaps interpretations. Baskerville et al. Data triangulation: This may imply multiple instances from a single source. reflection of the social and historical background of 1992 contextuali. investigator triangulation. MIS Quarterly Vol. or less supported by available generalizations” (p.. 2. 3—Appendices/September 2015 A5 . pp. They state that “the and suspicion) plausibility of an explanation is enhanced to the extent that alternative explanations are considered and found to be less consistent with the data. the research setting. however this strategy may be most appropriate in the absence of high theoretic coherence. It also refers to contextual validity or the assessment of validity by comparing evidence with other kinds of evidence on the same point. Moreover. 3.g. Methodological triangulation: Once a proposition has been confirmed by two or more Diesing 1972. methodological triangulation. 1985 Kaplan and Duchon 1988 This is achieved by various methods. 39 No. then a team comprising multiple investigators can contribute towards the evaluation with the objective of establishing reliability. even conflicting explanations. can see how the current situation under dialogical investigation emerges” (p. measurement process the uncertainty of its 147-148 interpretation is greatly reduced. 4.

Baskerville et al. transferability. 2001 question underlying the development of this criteria is. the term 1985 Onwuegbuzie and Leech credibility is the equivalent for the conventional 2007 scientific term internal validity and denotes Patton 1999 trustworthiness of the findings. motivation. Baxter and Eyles 1997 findings. p. or interest. Some activities that can increase the probability of credible findings are prolonged engagement. In more naturalistic settings. indicates that the findings in one case are applicable in all contexts within the same population. (2) The second conceptualization (which is more post-positivist or naturalistic) views transferability to be demon- strated when the researcher has provided ade- quate evidence and descriptive data to support that the original context and the transferred context are sufficiently similar for the findings to be transferred./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Illustrative Examples of Criteria Definition Sources Criteria Use Credibility Credibility is the confidence in the “truth” of the Lincoln and Guba. Confirmability Confirmability is the degree of neutrality of the Guba 1981 Baxter and Eyles 1997 extent to which findings of a study are shaped by Hoepfl 1997 the respondents and not researcher bias. 2001 findings are consistent and could be repeated. 3—Appendices/September 2015 . 218). to be 1985 applicable in other contexts. The question underlying the establishment of the Lincoln and Guba confirmability criteria is: “How can one establish 1985 the degree to which the findings of an inquiry stem from the characteristics of the responders and the context and not from the biases and motivations and perspective of the researcher?” (Lincoln and Guba 1985. persistent observation. A6 MIS Quarterly Vol. Dependability Dependability is the process for showing that the Lincoln and Guba Avizienis et al. The 1985 Bondavalli et al. Transferability Transferability is the characteristic of the findings in Lincoln and Guba Malterud 2001 one context or pertaining to a situation. Lincoln and Guba distinguish two different conceptualizations of transferability: (1) The first conceptualization (which views science from a more Kuhnian perspective). how to “determine whether the findings of an inquiry would be consistently repeated if the inquiry were replicated in the same or similar contexts?” (Guba 1981. Confirmability is the naturalistic equivalent to conventional evaluation criteria of objectivity. 80). p. and triangulation. 39 No.

(and thus no credibility without dependability). accuracy” 1985 (Kerlinger 1973. Lincoln and Guba Morse et al.” Consistency Consistency (along with stability and predictability) Guba 1981. p. Reliability suggests that it is reasonable “to assume that each repetition of the application of the same or equivalent instruments to the same units will yield similar measurements” (Ford 1975. p. p./Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research Illustrative Examples of Criteria Definition Sources Criteria Use Applicability Applicability is “how one can determine the degree Guba 1981 Green and Glasgow to which the findings of a particular inquiry may 2006 have applicability in other contexts” (Guba 1981. 37). p. Generalizability Generalizations are assertions of enduring value Lincoln and Guba Lee and Baskerville 2003 that are context-free. 79). This will ensure that the findings are relevant in other contexts. they stress that 1985 inquiry that only sees value in generalizable knowledge while ignoring the knowledge from the unique. 422). Consistency can be interpreted as “a concept that embraces elements both from stability (implied by reliability) and from trackability required by explainable changes in instrumentation. According to Lincoln and Guba (1985. Baskerville et al. 316) “since there can be no validity without reliability.” MIS Quarterly Vol. 2008 stability. 3—Appendices/September 2015 A7 . In scientific terms. particularized knowledge on the other. risks ignoring the alternatives that lie between nomic (nomothetic) generalizations on the one hand and unique. p. 324) and is usually tested by replication. 81 Ragin 2006 is a key concept underlying reliability. 39 No. p. External External validity is “the approximate validity with Bracht and Glass 1968 King and He 2005 validity which we infer the presumed causal relationship can be generalized to and across alternate Cook and Campbell measures of the cause and effect and across 1979 different types of persons settings and time” (Cook and Campbell 1979. and requires that the inquiry is conducted in such a way that chronological or situational variations do not impact the findings. a demonstration of the former is sufficient to establish the latter. However. consistency. The truth statements then are context-free and will hold in any given context. Reliability Reliability is synonymous with “dependability. it can be referred to as generalizability or external validity. predictability.

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