Design Rationale is an approach to the design of information systems which highlights the underlying argumentative reasoning and documentation of design decisions. The Argumentative Design (ArD) method extends Design Rationale to address organisational problem identification and the formulation of needs to be supported by the system.

In this study, ArD was further modified and then applied in the early phase of the design of an information system for shop stewards in the Swedish trade union movement. The application of ArD revealed that both similarities and significant discrepancies existed between top-management information technology strategies and shop-floor needs, and that the strategies involve fundamental power-relation issues in terms of centralisation versus decentralisation and individualism versus collectivism. It is suggested that ArD can be of general benefit in early design phases by eliciting fundamental organisational issues and by illustrating what impact chosen information technology solutions may have on organisations. The study is of value for other unions wishing to learn from the Swedish experience and the modified ArD approach can also be used in other contexts where several interest groups are to be satisfied by a system.