Design Science Research and the Grounded Theory Method: Characteristics, Differences, and Complementary Uses

  • Robert Wayne Gregory


The information systems (IS) research community is characterized by a large diversity of research approaches and topics. Although empirical quantitative research approaches dominate (Orlikowski et al. 1991), new research strategies are on the rise. Two research strategies that have received increasing scholarly attention recently are design science research (DSR) and the grounded theory method (GTM). For example, the European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS) recently published a special issue on DSR edited by Baskerville (2008). In addition, there is a call for papers by the same journal for a special issue on the GTM which will appear in the near future.


Information System Research Strategy Ground Theory Theoretical Sampling Substantive Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, D. K., Colligan, D., Finnie, A. and Kern, T. "Trust, power and interorganizational information systems: the case of the electronic trading community TransLease," Information Systems Journal (10:1), 2000, pp. 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Au, Y. A. "Design Science I: The Role of Design Science in Electronic Commerce Research," Communications of the Association for Information Systems (7: 1), 2001, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  3. Baskerville, R. "What Design Science is not, "European Journal of Information Systems (17:5), 2008, pp. 441–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baskerville, R., Pries-Heje, J. and Venable, J. "Soft Design Science Methodology," Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology DESRIST, 2009.Google Scholar
  5. Baskerville, R. and Stage, J. "Accommodating emergent work practices: Ethnographic choice of method fragments". Kluwer, New York, 2001.Google Scholar
  6. Bryant, A. and Charmaz, K. "The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory," SAGE Publications, London, 2007.Google Scholar
  7. Eisenhardt, K. M. "Building Theories from Case Study Research," Academy of Management Review (14:4), 1989, pp. 532–550.Google Scholar
  8. Fernandez, W. D. "The Grounded Theory Method and Case Study Data in IS Research: Issues and Design," Information Systems Foundations Workshop: Constructing and Criticising, 2004.Google Scholar
  9. Glaser, B. G. "Doing Grounded Theory: Issues and Discussions," Mill Valley, USA, 1998.Google Scholar
  10. Glaser, B. G. "Theoretical Sensitivity," Mill Valley, USA, 1978.Google Scholar
  11. Glaser, B. G. and Strauss, A. L. "The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research," Chicago, USA, 1967.Google Scholar
  12. Goldkuhl, G. "Design Theories in Information Systems - A Need for Multi-Grounding," Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application, (6:2) 2004, pp. 59–72.Google Scholar
  13. Hevner, A., March, S., Park, J. and Ram, S. "Design Science in Information Systems Research," MIS Quarterly (28:1), 2004, pp. 75–105.Google Scholar
  14. Holmström, J. B., Ketokivi, M. and Hameri, A. P. "Bridging Practice and Theory: A Design Science Approach," Decision Science (40:1), 2009, pp. 65–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iivari, J. "A Paradigmatic Analysis of Information Systems as a Design Science," Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (19:2), 2007, pp. 39–63.Google Scholar
  16. Iivari, J. and Venable, J. "Action Research and Design Science Research - Seemingly Similar But Decisively Dissimilar," 17th European Conference on Information Systems, 2009.Google Scholar
  17. Järvinen, P. "Action Research is Similar to Design Science," Quality and Quantity (41:1), 2007, pp. 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kirsch, L. J. "Deploying Common Systems Globally: The Dynamics of Control," Information Systems Research (15:4), 2004, pp. 374–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kuechler, B. and Vaishnavi, V. "On Theory Development in Design Science Research: Anatomy of a Research Project," European Journal of Information Systems (17:5), 2008, pp. 489–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Madill, A., Jordan, A. and Shirley, C. "Objectivity and reliability in qualitative analysis: Realist, contextualist and radical constructionist epistemologies," British Journal of Psychology (91:1), 2000, pp. 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. March, S. T. and Smith, G. "Design and Natural Science Research on Information Technology," Decision Support Systems (15:4), 1995, pp. 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Markus, M. L., Majchrzak, A. and Gasser, L. "A Design Theory for Systems that Support Emergent Knowledge Processes," MIS Quarterly (26:3), 2002, pp. 179–212.Google Scholar
  23. McKay, J. and Marshall, P. "A Review of Design Science in Information Systems," 16th Australasian Conference on Information Systems 2005.Google Scholar
  24. Merton, R. K. "Social Theory and Social Structure," The Free Press, New York, USA, 1968.Google Scholar
  25. Mingers, J. "Combining IS Research Methods: Towards a Pluralist Methodology," Information Systems Research (12:3), 2001, pp. 240–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Orlikowski, W. J. "CASE Tools as Organizational Change: Investigating Incremental and Radical Changes in Systems," MIS Quarterly (17:3), 1993, pp. 309–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Orlikowski, W. J. and Baroudi, J. "Stuying Information Technology in Organizations Research Approaches and Assumptions," Information Systems Research (2:1), 1991, pp. 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Orlikowski, W. J. and Iacono, C. S. "Research Commentary: Desperately Seeking the ’IT’ in IT Research – A Call to Theorizing the IT Artifact," Information Systems Research (12:2), 2001, pp. 121–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peffers, K., Tuunanen, T., Rothenberger, M. A. and Chatterjee, S. "A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research," Journal of Management Information Systems (24:3), 2007, pp. 45–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Simon, H. A. "The Sciences of the Artificial," (3rd ed.), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996.Google Scholar
  31. Stebbins, R. A. "Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences," Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, USA, 2001.Google Scholar
  32. Suddaby, R. "From the Editors: What Grounded Theory is Not," Academy of Management Journal (49:4), 2006, pp. 633–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Urquhart, C. "The Evolving Nature of Grounded Theory Method: The Case of the Information Systems Discipline," SAGE Publications, London, 2007.Google Scholar
  34. Urquhart, C. and Fernández, W. D. "Grounded Theory Method: The Researcher as Blank Slate and Other Myths," Twenty-Seventh International Conference on Information Systems, pp. 457–464, 2006.Google Scholar
  35. Walls, J. G., Widmeyer, G. R. and El Sawy, O. A. "Building an Information System Design Theory for Vigilant EIS," Information Systems Research (3:1), 1992, pp. 36–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Winter, R. "Design Science Research in Europe," European Journal of Information Systems (17:5), 2008, pp. 470–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

Personalised recommendations