Australian National University
May 28, 2010
Speakman Hall 200, 1000am – 1130am
This essay extends Simon’s arguments in the ‘Sciences of the Artificial’ to a critical examination of how theorizing in Information Technology disciplines should occur. The essay is framed around a number of fundamental questions that relate theorizing in the artificial sciences to the traditions of the philosophy of science. The paper argues that theorizing in this relatively new form of science should be considered in a holistic manner that links two modes of theorizing: an interior mode with the how of artifact construction studied and an exterior mode with the what of existing artifacts studied. Unlike some representations in the design science movement the paper argues that the study of artifacts once constructed can not be passed back uncritically to the methods of traditional science. Seven principles for creating knowledge in IT disciplines are derived analytically: (i) artifact system centrality; (ii) artifact purposefulness; (iii) need for design theory; (iv) induction and abduction in theory building; (v) artifact construction as theory building; (vi) holistic linking of interior and exterior modes of theorizing; and (viii) recognition of issues with generality. The claim is that consideration of these principles will improve knowledge creation and theorizing in design disciplines, for both design science researchers and also for researchers using more traditional methods and that attention to these principles should lead to the creation of more useful and relevant knowledge. Examples of application of the principles in the area of Decisions Support Systems are provided in support of the arguments advanced.
For a copy of the paper, click here..