Wieringa (2010) Relevance and Problem Choice in Design Science


The supposed opposition of rigor versus relevance is based on the mistaken idea that rigor consists of linear technology transfer com- bined 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 sci- ence 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 fu- ture 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 tech- nology to substantiate these points and provides an extended frame- work 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.

Citation Roel J. Wieringa (2010). Relevance and Problem Choice in Design Science. Global Perspectives on Design Science Research, pp. 61–76. URL

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Wieringa, Roel J.},
isbn = {3642133347},
journal = {Global Perspectives on Design Science Research},
pages = {61--76},
title = {{Relevance and Problem Choice in Design Science}},
url = {http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-13335-0_5\npapers2://publication/uuid/F53DBF2C-E4E6-41E5-9A4B-768BA9AA963D},
year = {2010}

Key ideas


Design Science Research