On Theory Development in Design Science Research: Anatomy of a Research Project


The common understanding of design science research in information systems (DSRIS) continues to evolve. Only in the broadest terms has there been consensus: that DSRIS involves, in some way, learning through the act of building. However, what is to be built – the definition of the DSRIS artifact – and how it is to be built – the methodology of DSRIS – has drawn increasing discussion in recent years. The relationship of DSRIS to theory continues to make up a significant part of the discussion: how theory should inform DSRIS and whether or not DSRIS can or should be instrumental in developing and refining theory. In this paper, we present the exegesis of a DSRIS research project in which creating a (prescriptive) design theory through the process of developing and testing an information systems artifact is inextricably bound to the testing and refinement of its kernel theory.

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