Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Accepted Version.

Hovorka, D.S. (2010). Incommensurability and multi-paradigm grounding in design science research: Implications for creating knowledge. Paper presented at the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) working group 8.2 + 8.6, Perth, Western Australia.

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2010 HERDC submission. FoR Code: 080600

Nominated for best paper.

© Copyright Springer, 2010




The ’problem identification-design-build-evaluate-theorize’ structure of Design Science Research has been proposed as an approach to creating knowledge in information systems and in broader organizational and social domains’. Although the approach has merit, the philosophical foundations’ of two specific components warrant attention. First, the grounding of design theory on potentially incommensurate kernel theories may produce incoherent design theory. In addition, the newly design theory has no strong logical connection to the kernel theories, and so cannot be used to test or validate the contributing kernel theories. Second, the philosophical grounding of evaluation may inadvertently shift from functionally-based measures of utility and efficiency, to evaluation based on the pragmatic fulfillment of multi-dimensional human actions as people encounter information systems, resulting in evaluation errors. Although design and evaluation from a single paradigm is not desirable, sufficient, or representative of design science research, multi-paradigm grounding of design and evaluation must be realized and used consciously by the research community if the design science approach is to remain a legitimate approach to knowledge creation.



This document has been peer reviewed.