News & Press: InSider

CAIS Opens New Department

Friday, September 6, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Adeline Border
The Communications of the Association for Information Systems journal has opened a new department for papers dealing with digital design. The department will be led by associate editors Andreas Drechsler, Dirk Hovorka, and Tuure Tuunanen. The department will focus on extending design science research and acknowledging design studies in digital contexts. More specifically, design and designing can be broadly characterized by activities that lead to new states or configurations of the world. Design and designing are a concern in multiple academic and practical domains and have been a core focus of information systems (IS) research since the formative years of the IS discipline. In more recent times, IS research has been concerned with design and designing in two overlapping but distinct approaches.

The first approach, design science research, is one of scientific problem solving (Simon, 1996) and embraces engineering and sociotechnical perspectives with technical and operational solutions as a foundation of IS scholarship (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977). The focus is on the synthesis of novel solutions through iteratively mobilizing and integrating scientific knowledge into “shaping artefacts and events to create a more desirable future” (Boland, 2004, p. 106). Procedurally, it emphasizes scientific methods, engineering, and construction of sociotechnical artifacts as a way of knowledge construction, dissemination and transfer (Hevner, March, Park, & Ram, 2004; Peffers, Tuunanen, Rothenberger, & Chatterjee, 2007; Winter, 2008).

A second approach, design studies, focuses on designing activities as open and forward‐looking pathways toward as‐yet‐unknown creations (Cross, 2001; Germonprez, Hovorka, & Collopy, 2007; Hirschheim & Newman, 1991). This approach shifts the focus to the social processes and anticipatory foresight (Ingold, 2013) in which designers improvise a passage between imagination and recalcitrant materials in alignment with “what technology can do for people, the places it will go and the needs it will address” (Dourish & Bell, 2011, p. 4). Although artefacts may be produced, this approach focuses on social and organizational configurations, practices, and on developing correspondence between actions, values, andmaterial things.

The discourse surrounding these distinct approaches is one illustration that the IS field has a complicated relationship with design. For instance, we have witnessed debates during the inception and evolution of design science research regarding knowledge creation, theorization, and the centrality of the artefact (Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Nunamaker Jr, Chen, & Purdin, 1991; Peffers et al., 2007; Pries‐Heje & Baskerville, 2008; Venable, 2006). Past and present editorial commentaries about how design might form contributions welcomed by IS journals (Baskerville, Lyytinen, Sambamurthy, & Straub, 2010; Österle et al., 2010; Peffers, Tuunanen, & Niehaves, 2018; Rai, 2017) demonstrate that this long‐lasting discussion has not lost valence, intensity, or relevance to our community.

In response, the Communications of the Association for Information Systems has established the Department on Digital Design as a venue for IS researchers focusing on “design and designing” to share their work with the IS community. We envisage this department to be a forum for exchange, a distribution channel for novel ideas about design, for new approaches, new findings, new artifacts, and new discussions. In line with the overall mission of the Communications of the Association for Information Systems ( we envision this department to be a standing outlet for academic discourse on digital design that is open, inclusive and with a broad purview. Submissions welcome!

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