Management Information Systems Quarterly

Article Title

The Design Theory Nexus


Managers frequently face ill-structured or “wicked” problems. Such problems are characterized by a large degree of uncertainty with respect to how the problem should be approached and how to establish and evaluate the set of alternative solutions. A design theory nexus is a set of constructs and methods that enable the construction of models that connect numerous design theories with alternative solutions. It thereby offers a unique problem-solving approach that is particularly useful for addressing ill-structured or wicked problems. For each alternative solution in a design theory nexus one or more unique criteria are established to formulate a specific design theory. We develop a general method for constructing a design theory nexus and illustrate its utility using two field studies. One develops and applies an organizational change nexus. The other develops and applies a user involvement nexus. Each is a specific instantiation of the general design theory nexus constructs. Using these illustrations, we provide examples of how to evaluate such instantiations. We then discuss our findings as well as the validity of our approach. We conclude that the design theory nexus provides a viable conceptualization that enables the construction of effective problem-solving artifacts.