Relevance and problem choice in design science


Wieringa, Roel (2010) Relevance and problem choice in design science. In: Global Perspectives on Design Science Research (DESRIST). 5th International Conference, 4-5 June, 2010, St. Gallen (pp. pp. 61-76).

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Abstract:The supposed opposition of rigor versus relevance is based on
the mistaken idea that rigor consists of linear technology transfer combined
with positivistic science, and ignores the context-dependence of
relevance as well as the incorporation of conditions of practice necessary
for applicability of knowledge. Historical insights from the history of science
and technology show that technology is not transferred linearly from
research to practice, and that technical science has more in common with
social science than a superficial comparison would reveal. In both fields,
(1) practical problems are often solved without input from research, and
(2) researchers often investigate past innovations rather than prepare future
ones. And in both fields, (3) relevance is context-dependent, because
it depends on changeable goals of stakeholders. Applicability is a more
important requirement than relevance to a goal, where applicability is
the match between theory and the condition of practice of a concrete
This paper summarizes insights from the history of science and technology
to substantiate these points and provides an extended framework
for design science to incorporate these insights. Since relevance
depends on problem choice, the paper also summarizes what is known
about classes of relevant practical problems and research questions in
technical design science and discusses the relevance of this for IS design
science. We finally discuss implications for research methods, research
strategy, and knowledge transfer in IS design science.
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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