Theoretical Foundation of Design Science Research

Design science has been an important research paradigm in the information systems discipline for more than a decade and has found its way into the discipline’s mainstream. Valuable attempts have tried to provide and clarify design science’s conceptual foundations and design science researchers with generally accepted methodological recommendations, whether in the context of dedicated conferences, special journal issues, or even the publication of single, high-impact papers. However, actual design science practice does not truly reflect these attempts, as even the most impactful methodological contributions are generally only followed nominally. In addition, no consensus has yet been reached concerning theorizing’s actual role within design science projects. The predominance of isolated artifact designs and the corresponding lack of cumulative knowledge generation are particularly frustrating consequences of the shortcomings within the design science community.

In this project, we therefore investigate the role of theorizing in the design research process in a descriptive and a normative way. Our aim is to provide consensus-oriented methodological recommendations that can foster the development of a more cumulative research practice and to address the following research questions:


  • What are the essential components of the design science research process?
  • What role can theories play in the process of designing artifacts?
  • How can the design of artifacts yield theoretical insights?
  • Which quality criteria should be used to assess design science projects?



2008 - ongoing



  • Thakurta, R., Mueller, B., Ahlemann, F., & Hoffmann, D.: The State of Design – A Comprehensive Literature Review to Chart the Design Science Research Discourse, IEEE (Ed.), 2017 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii 2017.