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Abstract

“Is this the problem?”: the question that haunts many information systems (IS) researchers when they pursue work relevant to both practice and research. Nevertheless, a deliberate answer to this question requires more than simply asking the involved IS practitioners. Deliberately formulating problems requires a more substantial engagement with the different stakeholders, especially when their problems are ill structured and situated in complex organizational settings. On this basis, we present an engaged approach to formulating IS problems with, not for, IS practitioners. We have come to understand engaged problem formulation as joint researching and as the defining of contemporary and complex problems by researchers and those practitioners who experience and know these problems. We used this approach in investigating IS management in Danish municipalities. In this paper, we present the approach to formulating problems in an engaged way. We discuss it in relation to ideas and assumptions that underpin engaged scholarship, and we discuss the implications for IS action research, design science research, and mixed approaches.

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