For Design Science Research (DSR) to gain wide credence as a research paradigm in Information Systems (IS), it must contribute to theory. “Theory cannot be improved until we improve the theorizing process, and we cannot improve the theorizing process until we describe it more explicitly, operate it more self-consciously, and decouple it from validation more deliberately” (Weick 1989, p. 516). With the aim of improved design science theorizing, we propose a DSR abstraction-layers framework that integrates, interlates, and harmonizes key methodological notions, primary of which are: 1) the Design Science (DS), Design Research (DR), and Routine Design (RD) distinction (Winter 2008); 2) Multi Grounding in IS Design Theory (ISDT) (Goldkuhl & Lind 2010); 3) the Idealized Model for Theory Development (IM4TD) (Fischer & Gregor 2011); and 4) the DSR Theorizing Framework (Lee et al. 2011). Though theorizing, or the abstraction process, has been the subject of healthy discussion in DSR, important questions remain. With most attention to date having focused on theorizing for Design Research (DR), a key stimulus of the layered view was the realization that Design Science (DS) produces abstract knowledge at a higher level of generality. The resultant framework includes four abstraction layers: (i) Design Research (DR) 1st Abstract Layer, (ii) Design Science (DS) 2nd Abstract Layer, (iii) DSR Incubation 3rd Layer, and (iv) Routine Design 4th Layer. Differentiating and inter-relating these layers will aid DSR researchers to discover, position, and amplify their DSR contributions. Additionally, consideration of the four layers can trigger creative perspectives that suggest unplanned outputs. The first abstraction layer, including its alternative patterns of activity, is well recognized in the literature. The other layers, however, are less well recognized; and the integrated representation of layers is novel.
Alturki, Ahmad and Gable, Guy G., "THEORIZING IN DESIGN SCIENCE RESEARCH: AN ABSTRACTION LAYERS FRAMEWORK" (2014). PACIS 2014 Proceedings. 126.