Technological innovations raise axiological questions such as what is right or wrong, good and bad, and so on (i.e., ethical considerations). These considerations have particular importance in design science research (DSR) projects since the developed artifacts often actively intervene into human affairs and, thus, cannot be free from value. To account for this fact, Myers and Venable (2014) proposed six ethical principles for DSR in order to support researchers to conduct ethical DSR. However, ethical principles per se—and the ethical DSR principles that Myers and Venable propose— have an abstract nature so that they can apply to a broad range of contexts. As a consequence, they do not necessarily apply to specific research projects, which means researchers need to contextualize them for each specific DSR project. Because doing so involves much challenge, we explore how contemporary DSR publications have dealt with this contextualization task and how they implemented the six ethical principles for DSR. Our results reveal that DSR publications have not discussed ethical principles in sufficient depth. To further promote ethical considerations in DSR, we argue that both DSR researchers and reviewers should be supported in implementing ethical principles. Therefore, we outline two pathways toward ethical DSR. First, we propose that researchers need to articulate the next generation of ethical principles for DSR using prescriptive knowledge structures from DSR. Second, we propose extending established DSR conceptualizations with an ethical dimension and specifically introduce the concept of ethical DSR process models. With this work, we contribute to the IS literature by reviewing ethical principles and their implementation in DSR, identifying potential challenges hindering efforts to implement ethics in DSR, and providing two pathways towards ethical DSR.
Venable, J. R.,
On Implementing Ethical Principles in Design Science Research.
AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 12(4), 206-227.
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