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Designing to Inform: Toward Conceptualizing Practitioner Audiences for Socio-technical Artifacts in Design Science Research in the Information Systems Discipline

Andreas Drechsler
InformingSciJ , Volume 18 , 2015   FEATURED ARTICLE
This paper identifies areas in the design science research (DSR) subfield of the information systems (IS) discipline where a more detailed consideration of practitioner audiences of socio-technical design artifacts could improve current IS DSR research practice and proposes an initial conceptualization of these audiences. The consequences of not considering artifact audiences are identified through a critical appraisal of the current informing science lenses in the IS DSR literature. There are specific shortcomings in four areas: 1) treating practice stakeholders as a too homogeneous group, 2) not explicitly distinguishing between social and technical parts of socio-technical artifacts, 3) neglecting implications of the artifact abstraction level, and 4) a lack of explicit consideration of a dynamic or evolutionary fitness perspective of socio-technical artifacts. The findings not only pave the way for future research to further improve the conceptualization of artifact audiences, in order to improve the informing power – and thus, impact on practice and research relevance – of IS DSR projects; they can also help to bridge the theory-practice gap in other disciplines (e.g. computer science, engineering, or policy-oriented sociology) that seek to produce social and/or technical artifacts of practical relevance.
design science, informing science, artifacts, artifact audiences, relevance, fitness, utility

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