Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


In design for complex, uncertain, and ill-natured situations, it is not possible to apply known methods and solutions without having a deeper situational understanding. Such design situations are infected with wicked problems that are contradictory and complex. This paper answers the question of how the wickedness of designing Information Technologies (IT) for integration work can be understood, and what implications the design situation has for the design process. The paper employs a phenomenological account to perform interviews together with stakeholders and users known as integration workers. Based on a phenomenological analysis, four wicked problems are identified to represent the wicked design situation: Struggle of hopes and fears, Contradiction of contingency, Contradiction of social presence, and Uncertainty of reliance. The wicked problems are subsequently addressed as interrelated and have implications for the design process, which is enframed through four proposed design implications: IT for subtle decision makings, IT for cross-boundary interaction, IT for disclosing proximity and distance, and IT for increased empowerment. The implications incorporate a holistic design ontology, which also shows the viability of phenomenology for studying, describing, and understanding how to tackle situational wickedness in design-oriented Information Systems (IS) research.