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Grounded Design

A praxeological IS research perspective
: Rohde, M.; Brödner, P.; Stevens, G.; Betz, M.; Wulf, V.


Journal of information technology 32 (2017), No.2, pp.163-179
ISSN: 0268-3962
Journal Article
Fraunhofer FIT ()

In this paper, we propose Grounded Design – a particular design research (DR) approach rooted in a practice-theoretical tradition. It assesses the quality of information technology (IT) design through evaluation of emerging changes in social practices, which result from the appropriation and use of IT artifacts. The paper starts with a systematic analysis of the reasons for persistent limitations of traditional information systems DR, specifically in coping with problems of contingency and self-referentiality. Following this critique, the principles of Grounded Design are presented. Grounded Design is applied in case studies where we reconstruct the social practices observed before and during the design and appropriation of innovative IT artifacts. We call these context-specific research endeavors ‘design case studies.’ In conducting these case studies, Grounded Design builds upon well-established research methods such as ethnographical field studies, participatory design and action research. To support the transferability of its situated findings, Grounded Design suggests documenting increasing numbers of design case studies to create an extended, comparative knowledge base. Comparing cases allows for the emergence of bottom-up concepts dealing with the design and appropriation of innovative IT artifacts in social practice.