University of Oulu

ivari, Juhani (2020) "Editorial: A Critical Look at Theories in Design Science Research," Journal of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 21 : Iss. 3, Article 10. DOI: 10.17705/1jais.00610, Available at:

Editorial : a critical look at theories in design science research

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Author: Iivari, Juhani1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Information Systems, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-10


This editorial critically reviews design theories, kernel theories, and substantive technologi­cal theories in design science research (DSR) within information systems (IS). The review identifies four different but interrelated interpretations of “design theory” for the design product. In the case of kernel theories, it pays attention to the softening of their scientific status that undermines the status of design theories as well. Substantive technological theories refer to intermediating theories between abstract descrip­tive/explanatory kernel theories and design. The editorial suggests that DSR in IS (DSRIS) has great potential to contribute design-oriented, explanatory/predictive, substantive technological theories. Overall, the review illus­trates excessive use of the word “theory” in DSR. This is in line with the alleged “theory fetish” of information systems.

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Series: Journal of the Association for Information Systems
ISSN: 1536-9323
ISSN-E: 1536-9323
ISSN-L: 1536-9323
Volume: 21
Issue: 3
Pages: 502 - 519
DOI: 10.17705/1jais.00610
Type of Publication: B1 Journal article
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Copyright information: Copyright © 2020 by the Association for Information Systems.