Theorizing in Design and Design Theories

Schedule and location

Wednesday October 31st  – Thursday November 1st  

 Opinkivi Sauna, Keskussairaalantie 2, Jyväskylä



Registration has ended since the maximum amount of participants has been reached. If you wish to queue for an open spot in the event, please send an email to


Professor Richard Baskerville, Georgia State University, USA and Curtin University, Australia


Professor Tuure Tuunanen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland


This workshop will provide critical insight into the fundamental concepts underlying the relationship between design and theory.  Students will develop individual, critically grounded, viewpoints on design theory and design theorizing as foundations for generative research approaches in information systems and computing.  Explanatory design theory will be used as an example of the issues.  The workshop will include group activities and discussion of potential individual student research projects in relation to the ideas.  Students will prepare a short PowerPoint deck to share with assigned group members for discussion in the workshop.  The workshop will provide guidance for their own research based on the seminal works in the readings.




Primary Readings


Read the primary readings in the reference list.

(See the reading list below.)


Identify a research project with which will or might be accomplished using a design science approach. 


Prepare a brief six-slide prospectus PowerPoint deck for the research using the outline below.


Submit the prospectus by October 17th for grouping & circulation


Read the other prospectuses returned before arriving for the seminar.

 Deck Outline

The research prospectus should satisfies the following questions

  1. Summary
    • What will the proposed project will accomplish?
  1. Design problem
    • What is the purpose of the research?
  2. Theoretical importance of the research
    • What is the design theory?
    • Who is the audience?
    • Why is this work significant to this audience? What makes this work interesting?
    • Why is this work not trivial or inconsequential?
  3. Significant prior research on topic
    • What are the current solutions to this problem and why are these inadequate?
    • What are the related books and works in major outlets?
    • What are the “classic” or “seminal” works?
    • What are the significant recent works?
  4. Research approach or research methodology
    • Which design science methodology?
    • Why is this approach valid for this project?
    • What resources are required?
    • How much time will be planned?
  5. Potential Outcomes
    • What will be the main theoretical contribution of the research?
    • What will be the main practical contribution of the research?
    • What is the artifact?
    • What if the artifact implementation fails?
    • What are the contributions to knowledge of each potential outcome?
    • What other risks are involved?

 Detailed Program


Day 1: Design Science Research and Its Theories 




Primary Readings

8:00 – 9:30

Class introductions

Design science research: A review or introduction

(Hevner, March, Park, & Ram, 2004)

(March & Smith, 1995)

(Peffers, Tuunanen, Rothenberger, & Chatterjee, 2008)

9:30 – 10:00

Coffee break


10:00 – 11:30

Design theories: A viewpoint gallery

(Walls, Widmeyer, & El Sawy, 1992)

(Markus, Majchrzak, & Gasser, 2002)

(Gregor & Jones, 2007)

(Baskerville & Pries-Heje, 2010)

(Hooker, 2004)

11:30 – 12:30



12:30 – 14:00

Philosophy, pragmatism and explanations in design science

(Goldkuhl & Agerfalk, 2005)

(Lee, Pries-Heje, & Baskerville, 2011)

(Cross, 2001)


Coffee break


14:30 - 16:00

Prospectus presentations & discussions



Day 2: Multimodal Science and Explanatory Design Theories



Primary Readings

8:00 – 9:30

Design science as multi-genre and transmodal science

(Baskerville, Kaul, & Storey, 2015)

(Baskerville & Pries-Heje, 2016)

9:30 – 10:00

Coffee break


10:00 – 11:30

Explanatory design theory

 (Baskerville & Pries-Heje, 2010)

(Niehaves & Ortbach, 2016)

11:30 – 12:30



12:30 – 14:00

Publishing strong design theory

(Davis, 1971)

(Weick, 1995)

14:00 – 14:30

Coffee break


14:30 - 16:00

Prospectus presentations & discussions




Baskerville, R., Kaul, M., & Storey, V. (2015). Genres of Inquiry in Design-Science Research: Justification and Evaluation of Knowledge Production. MIS Quarterly, 39(3), 541-564.

Baskerville, R., & Pries-Heje, J. (2010). Explanatory Design Theory. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 2(5), 271-282.

Baskerville, R., & Pries-Heje, J. (2016). Discovering the Significance of Scientific Design Practice: New Science wrapped in Old Science? Paper presented at the 24th European Conference on Information Systems, Istanbul, Turkey.

Cross, N. (2001). Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline Versus Design Science. Design Issues, 17(3), 49-55. doi:10.1162/074793601750357196

Davis, M. (1971). That's interesting. Philosophy of Social Science, 1, 309-344.

Goldkuhl, G., & Agerfalk, P. J. (2005). IT Artifacts as Socio-Pragmatic Instruments: Reconciling the Pragmatic, Semiotic, and Technical. International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction (IJTHI), 1(3), 29-43.

Gregor, S., & Jones, D. (2007). The Anatomy of a Design Theory. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 8(5), 312-335.

Hevner, A. R., March, S. T., Park, J., & Ram, S. (2004). Design Science In Information Systems Research. MIS Quarterly, 28(1), 75-105.

Hooker, J. N. (2004). Is design theory possible? Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application, 5(2), 73-82.

Lee, J. S., Pries-Heje, J., & Baskerville, R. (2011). Theorizing in Design Science Research. In H. Jain, A. P. Sinha, & P. Vitharana (Eds.), Service-Oriented Perspectives in Design Science Research: 6th International Conference, DESRIST 2011 Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Vol. 6629, pp. 1-16). Berlin: Springer.

March, S. T., & Smith, G. F. (1995). Design and natural science research on information technology. Decision Support Systems, 15(4), 251-266.

Markus, M. L., Majchrzak, A., & Gasser, L. (2002). A design theory for systems that support emergent knowledge processes. MIS Quarterly, 26(3), 179-212.

Niehaves, B., & Ortbach, K. (2016). The inner and the outer model in explanatory design theory: the case of designing electronic feedback systems. European Journal of Information Systems, 25(4), 303-316. doi:10.1057/ejis.2016.3

Peffers, K., Tuunanen, T., Rothenberger, M. A., & Chatterjee, S. (2008). A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(3), 45-77.

Walls, J. G., Widmeyer, G. R., & El Sawy, O. A. (1992). Building an information system design theory for vigilant EIS. Information Systems Research, 3(1), 36-59.

Weick, K. E. (1995). What theory is not, theorizing is. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 385-390. 


In advance of the seminar, participants will prepare a draft research prospectus for a design science research project in a PowerPoint deck format.  The topic may be determined by the participant, but a strong connection with the participant’s research interests is encouraged. The prospectus can include design science research work planned by the participant.  Alternatively it can suggest how other kinds of research planned by the participant might be revised into a design science format to deliver a design science result. 

During the seminar, participants will present their prospectus for discussion by the group in a workshop format.

Doctoral students must revise their prospectus deck in keeping with the comments from the seminar. Students should prepare an English-language, written prospectus paper to support the PowerPoint deck.  The paper may be no longer than 2000 words, and the deck no longer than six slides.  Submit the revised PowerPoint deck and paper no later than November 15th to Kai-Kristian Kemell (

Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating on all of the days and completing the assignments.

Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.