Proactive Research Approaches: Design and Action Research Professor Matti Rossi (Helsinki School of Economics) & Professor Maung Sein (Agder University College, Norway) This workshop is based on an ongoing collaborative effort with Dr. Sandeep Purao, Penn State University, USA, Dr. Ola Henfridsson and Dr. Rikard Lindgren both of Viktoria Institute, Sweden Partnership-seminar - Agenda To present the proactive research paradigms in
IS research: Design Research Action Research To map the similarities between the two methods and discuss how each can learn from the other Action Design an integrated approach To illustrate the concepts through an example Partnership-seminar - Program
09:00 09:20 10:00 10:30 10:40 - 09:20 10:00 10:30
10:40 11:30 Proactive research approaches Design Research (DR) Action Research (AR) Break Mapping AR & DR Action Design - integrated approach to designing in action 11:30 - 12:30 lunch 12:30 - 13:30 discussion of possible research projects and wrap-up
Partnership-seminar - Mattis background Acting professor of information systems at Helsinki School of Economics Held visiting assistant professorships both at Georgia State University and Erasmus University Rotterdam All studies at University of Jyvskyl Thesis on advanced CASE tools 1998 Minority owner and former board member of MetaCase Consulting (www.metacase.com) a spin off of the thesis project
Partnership-seminar - Maungs background Personal background Ethnically Arakanese, Born in Pakistan/Bangladesh Moved to USA in 1982, to Norway in 1995 and back in 1998 Educational background Undergraduate (Electronics Engg.), Masters (Finance and IS), PhD. (MIS)
Work experience Industry: Hardware, software, systems analyst, consultant Academic: Indiana, Florida International, Georgia State Universities (USA), University of Bergen (Norway) Main research areas:
End-user training and learning (Conceptual frameworks, best practices) IS development (Methods, projects, conceptual modelling) Theoretical/conceptual issues (Relevance of research, Research methods) Societal issues of IT (ICT and national development, e-Government) Partnership-seminar - Proactive Research Approaches: Design and Action Research Partnership-seminar - Research perspectives
Natural sciences typically observe reality Social sciences interpret organizational and social phenomena Computer science assumes natural science as the way of doing research Information systems take a more multiparadigmatic view Partnership-seminar - The Complex world that we operate in Letters Social Sciences
Natural Sciences Management Engineering Information Systems Information Systems Practice Partnership-seminar - Reactive and Proactive paradigms Reactive approaches take the world as a stable environment governed by laws that need to be
discovered by scientists (i.e. are descriptive in nature) Proactive approaches aim at developing ways to achieve human goals (i.e. are prescriptive or constructive) The distinction between the two: natural vs. artificial phenomena the intent of the research. Partnership-seminar - Reactive and Proactive paradigms Goals of research in Reactive paradigms Explanation research: Truth Seeking and/or Understanding
Knowledge for its own sake Goals of research in Proactive paradigms Design and Action Research: Improving Practice, solving problems Utilitarian perspective Partnership-seminar - Link between Reactive and Proactive paradigms Proactive (Design) creates artifacts, giving the phenomena that Reactive (Explanation research) can study Proactive (Design) may depend on knowledge
created by Reactive in creating new artifacts Proactive (Action) may depend on knowledge created by Reactive as a basis for intervention Partnership-seminar - Proactive Research Approaches: Design Research Partnership-seminar - Why use Design Research approach? Things that do not exist cannot be observed "... without research efforts directed toward developing new solutions and systems, there would
be little opportunity for evaluative research" Nunamaker et al., 1991 Partnership-seminar - Remarks... Design is the core of all professional training; it is the principal mark that distinguishes the professions from the sciences. business schools have become schools of finite mathematics. Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial. The MIT Press, 1981. Partnership-seminar -
Design Research Reference disciplines Psychology, sociology, ethnography, computer science, economics, management Level of analysis Society, profession, inter-org, org, project, group, individual, concept, system, component Partnership-seminar - Design research premises Ontology: Realist (real world exists but we are not seeking it)
Epistemology: We can intervene in the world to improve it Methodology: Development/Design of systems, models Qualitative and exploratory way of thinking, but could lead to quantitative confirmations Axiology: Relevance is stressed Partnership-seminar - When to use Design Research?
New areas There are theories, but they cannot be tested There are clear deficiencies in former systems Partnership-seminar - Products of Design Research Purao 2002 Partnership-seminar - Steps in Design Research Identify a need Problem solving
Build Model, Instantiate Evaluate Verify, Validate Learn Current, Emergent Theorize Conceptualize and generalize findings Partnership-seminar - Identify a need
Find a deficiency in current systems Do field studies of problems in the field After a problem is found perform a thorough search of previous research on the topic If previous research does not address the problem and it is interesting > go to next step Partnership-seminar - Build Design the system Use good software engineering principles Get the best tools and reuse everything that You can
Define the measures of success > Just do it! Partnership-seminar - Evaluation of Design Research Analysis of the built systems Trials in laboratory Field trials
Commercial success Measure of success should be defined before the implementation Systems should be evaluated against the defined measures Partnership-seminar - Evaluation: (Hevner et al., 2004) Partnership-seminar - Evaluation: Chen et al. The purpose is to study an important phenomenon in areas of information systems through system
building The results make a significant contribution to the domain The system is testable against all the stated objectives and requirements The new system can provide better solutions to IS problems than the existing systems and design expertise gained from building the system can be generalized for future use. Partnership-seminar - Evaluation: Sein, Purao, Rossi - 1 Internal criteria: Match between the artifact and the abstract idea.
How well does the artifact embody the abstract idea that is being researched? Match with generally accepted principles of designed artifacts Is the artifact a good system as defined by the field (good interfaces, easy to use etc.) Partnership-seminar - Evaluation: Sein, Purao, Rossi - 2 External: Advancement of design theory: Is the abstracted idea generalisable to other contexts or at least advance our understanding of other design contexts?
Are the ideas, if not the elements of the artifact, reusable? Advancement of information systems discipline: Does the artifact behave in / influences/improves the environment/context in which it is intended to be used? Partnership-seminar - Examples of measures How well the proposed algorithm performs in real life situations The speed of systems development using the constructed system The market share won
Lukka & Kasanens weak & strong market test Partnership-seminar - Learn and theorize Reflect on the process and product Try to generalize findings Try to confirm or reject the original assumptions > Start a new cycle, which analyzes the system in use < Start from the beginning... Partnership-seminar - Design Research Guidelines
Partnership-seminar - Reporting a building project Introduction explain the problem Identify the related research Research method what type of approach used? Nunamakerian, Marchian or Hevnerian? Identify the system properly
What problem it solves? What is the new idea behind the system and is indeed new State the approach explain logical design, some idea about the physical/platform aspects, explain the implementation project The product evaluation Measure against the "success" criteria In Discussion Specify lessons learnt and theorize
Partnership-seminar - Further reading March, S., Hevner, A. and Ram, S. (2000). "Research Commentary: An Agenda for Information Technology Research in Heterogeneous and Distributed Environments." Information Systems Research 11(4): 327-341. Hevner, A., March, S., Park, J. and Ram, S. (2004). "Design Science in Information Systems Research." MIS Quarterly 28(1): 75-105. Purao, S. (2002). Design Research in the Technology of Information Systems: Truth or Dare. GSU Department of CIS Working Paper. Atlanta. Brooks, F. (1996). "The Computer Scientist as Toolsmith
II." Communications of the ACM 39(3): 61-68. Link: http://www.isworld.org/Researchdesign/drisISworld.htm Partnership-seminar - Partnership-seminar - Proactive Research Approaches: Action Research Partnership-seminar - Action Research: Definition Action research simultaneously assists in practical problem-solving and expands scientific knowledge,
as well as enhances the competencies of the respective actors, being performed collaboratively in an immediate situation using data feedback in a cyclical process aiming at an increased understanding of change processes in social systems and undertaken within a mutually acceptable ethical framework. Hult & Lennung, 1980 Partnership-seminar - Action research premises Ontology: Information systems are Social systems with technical implications or Technical systems with
social implications Epistemology: Knowledge for action Knowledge for critical reflection Reflective science or Philosophy Methodology: Active intervention in organizational contexts Qualitative and exploratory way of thinking Axiology: Relevance is vital: prime goal is problem solving Partnership-seminar -
Action research basics Assumptions: Social settings cannot be reduced for study Action (i.e. intervention) brings understanding Action research is performed collaboratively; Researchers and practitioners are partners; Action research is building/testing theory within context of solving an immediate practical problem in real setting Thus it combines theory and practice, researchers and practitioners, and intervention and reflection Action research is not consulting: it is action, but still research
Partnership-seminar - Action Research process Partnership-seminar - Susman & Evered, 1978 Action Research process Diagnosing a problem develop a theoretical premise Action planning guided by theoretical framework
Action taking intervention, introducing change Evaluating, reflecting effects of change, theoretical premises Specifying learning double loop feed next iteration theorise Partnership-seminar - Action Case Focus on method development and evaluation
Action - from action research Understanding of context from case studies experimental approach - from field experiment Features: projects with short duration intervention in real time emphasis on quasi-experiments reducing complexity - one issue at a time
focus on changes in small scale Partnership-seminar - Canonical Action Research Criteria (Adapted from Davison, R. M., Martinsons, M. G., and Kock, N. Principles of Canonical Action Research, Information Systems Journal (14:1), 2004, pp. 65-86.) Criterion Description 1. Principle of Researcher-Client Agreement (RCA)
The RCA provides the basis for mutual commitment and role expectations. 2. Principle of Cyclical Process Model (CMP) The CPM consists of the stages diagnosing, action planning, action taking, evaluating, and specifying learning. 3. The Principle of Theory Theory must play a central role in action research. 4. The Principle of Change Through Action
Action and change are indivisible research elements related through intervention focused on producing change. 5. The Principle of Learning Through Reflection Considered reflection and learning allow a researcher to make both a practical and theoretical contribution. Partnership-seminar - Further reading Baskerville, R. "Investigating information systems with action research", (paper) (A tutorial on how to do action research)
Braa, K. "Priority workshops: Springboard for user participation in redesign activities", Proceedings of the Conference on Organisational Computing, ACMSIGOIS, California, 1995, 90-112. Hult, M. and Lennung, S-A. (1980). Towards a definition of action research: A note and bibliography, Journal of Management Studies, May, pp. 241-250. Partnership-seminar - Break! Partnership-seminar -
Proactive Research Approaches: Mapping AR & DR Partnership-seminar - Commonalities between AR and DR Ontology: the phenomenon of interest does not remain static through the research process. Epistemology: knowledge is created through intervening to effect change, and reflecting on this intervention. Axiology: both value the relevance of the research problem, and emphasise practical utility and theoretical knowledge
Partnership-seminar - A Common Paradigm: Pragmatism Applying the tenets of pragmatism (that characterize AR) to DR: Consequences defining concepts: In DR, there is a need to establish the purpose of the resultant artefact. Practical outcome embodying truth: The focus of DR is practical action, which ensures that the notion of truth lies in the utility of the produced artefact. Logic of controlled inquiry: The essence of DR is that designing must inform theory in that the produced artefact should embody a theoretical premise or a new idea, which can be evaluated by evaluating
the artefact. Social context of action: In DR, the act of designing is socially and organizationally situated, specifically in our conceptualization. Partnership-seminar - AR-DR Cross-Fertilization Adding Reflection to Augment Learning from DR Interjecting an AR cycle at the last stage of the DR process A DR project may be framed as an AR project if an organizational problem needs to be solved, and the action involves building a system Concretizing Learning from AR by Adding Build
Frame the output of AR as a DR artefact, such as prototypes, frameworks, or models Enhancing the AR action taking phase by including the building of a design artefact. Envisioning an AR-DR Integrated Research Process Action Design Partnership-seminar - AR-DR Cross-Fertilization Diagnosing a problem Action planning
Start a DR process -> Action taking Build Evaluating, reflecting Specifying learning Partnership-seminar - Mapping AR and DR processes Design Research
DR1 DR2 DR3 DR4 DR5 - Identifying a need Building Evaluating Learning
Principle of utility: truth in knowledge is determined by the utility of the developed artifact (based on pragmatism, Baskerville and Myers 2004) Principle of artifact: The product of the AR-DR synthesized approach is an artifact (Hevner et al., Jrvinen, DR core) Principle of knowledge through building, intervention and reflection The epistemology of our research subscribes to Partnership-seminar -
Principles of Action Design - 2 Principle of evaluation in an organizational context (March & Smith, AR core) Principle of mutual learning and informing: Theory-to-practice and practice-to-theory (CAR core) Principle of purposeful action (CAR core) Partnership-seminar - Map 1 (Problem definition) DR1 = AR1 Both start with diagnosing the problem, but Question is the level of abstraction of problem articulation: abstract at the beginning of the
research process or at the end? in DR, abstraction a priori is an important concern in AR, it is debatable ideal to define it at a higher level of abstraction often it is defined in a contextual manner Partnership-seminar - Map 2 (Building and Intervention) DR2 = AR2 + AR3 Design and action are both intervening into reality to improve or support existing organizational activities/processes, but In DR the idea of intervention is not clearly planned i.e. it does not involve a clear set of steps
In AR, planning and acting are distinct steps Partnership-seminar - Map 3 (Evaluation) DR3 = AR4 Both approaches stress problem solving For DR, evaluation involves additionally: Internal criteria Match between the artifact and the abstract idea Match with generally accepted principles of designed artifacts External criteria Advancement of design theory
Advancement of information systems discipline: Partnership-seminar - Map 4 (Reflection and Learning) DR4 + DR5 = AR5 Both depend on reflection and generalization to theoretical concepts and other contexts In AR, what the practitioner members of the research team learn is vital Partnership-seminar - DR-AR Mapping: Some Issues Role of theory
AR community is divided on whether a priori theory is necessary In DR, a theoretical stance is not a prerequisite to starting the research process; theoretical stance often emerges during design. Role of the user In AR, there is always a user (practitioners) In DR, a user is either present (systems designed for specific organizational context), or assumed Iteration In DR, iterations are more frequent than in AR Continual modification element of play
Design research involves play in DR, the idea of intervention is true though it is not clearly planned i.e. it does not involve a clear set of steps Partnership-seminar - Further reading Cole, R., Purao, R., Rossi, M. and Sein. M.K. (2005). Being Proactive: Where Action Research meets Design Research, Proceedings of ICIS 2005, Las Vegas, USA, Dec 2005 Jrvinen, P. (2005). Action Research as an Approach in Design Science, presented in THE EURAM (European Academy of Management) Conference, Munich, May 4-7, 2005
Partnership-seminar - Partnership-seminar - Contact Information Matti Rossi Helsinki School of Economics P.O. Box 1210 FIN-00101 Helsinki Finland Email: [email protected] Phone: +358-9-43138996 Fax : +358-9-43138777 http://www.hkkk.fi/~mrossi
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