The development of scientifically grounded IT artefacts significantly increased in the last decades. As a consequence, design science research emerged in the scientific field as a new research direction to explore the development of such IT artefacts. Thereby, design science research ensures to solve a real-world problem and to develop a theoretical contribution. The current literature differs by sorting design science research into specific research paradigms. As a consequence, some literature equalizes design science research with a new and innovative paradigm (developmentalist paradigm). However, in this paper we conduct a systematic comparison of the most salient characteristics of design science research and especially how they differ related to design science research as an approach or as a paradigm. Thereby, we stimulate a scholarly debate what the differences as well as possible similarities between both perceptions are.