Sir Isaac Newton (1676) famously said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Research is a collaborative, evolutionary endeavor—and it is no different with design science research (DSR), which builds upon existing design knowledge and creates new design knowledge to pass on to future projects. However, despite the vast, growing body of DSR contributions, scant evidence of the accumulation and evolution of design knowledge has been articulated in an organized DSR body of knowledge. Most contributions rather stand on their own feet than on the shoulders of giants, and this continues to limit how far we can see, curtailing the extent of the broader impacts that can be made through DSR. In this editorial, we aim at providing guidance on how to position design knowledge contributions in wider problem and solution spaces. We propose (1) a model conceptualizing design knowledge as a resilient relationship between problem and solution spaces, (2) a model that demonstrates how individual DSR projects consume and produce design knowledge, (3) a map to position a design knowledge contribution in problem and solution spaces, and (4) principles on how to use this map in a DSR project. We show how fellow researchers, readers, editors, and reviewers, as well as the IS community as a whole, can make use of these proposals, and also illustrate future research opportunities.
Jan vom Brocke, Robert Winter, Alan Hevner, Alexander Maedche