Relevance and problem choice in design science

Roelf J. Wieringa

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    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 case. 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.
    Original languageUndefined
    Title of host publicationGlobal Perspectives on Design Science Research (DESRIST). 5th International Conference
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Print)978-3-642-13334-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event5th International Conference on Global Perspectives on Design Science Research 2010 - St. Gallen, Switzerland
    Duration: 4 Jun 20105 Jun 2010
    Conference number: 5

    Publication series

    NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
    PublisherSpringer Verlag
    ISSN (Print)1611-3349


    Conference5th International Conference on Global Perspectives on Design Science Research 2010
    Abbreviated titleDESRIST 2010
    CitySt. Gallen


    • METIS-270906
    • IR-72383
    • SCS-Services
    • IS-Design science methodology
    • EWI-18125

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