Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Information Systems

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Baskerville

Second Advisor

Dr. Lars Mathiassen

Third Advisor

Dr. Veda C. Storey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Merrill Warkentin


This dissertation investigates the core subject of knowledge in design-science research (DSR). In contrast to natural and social sciences that are more explanatory in nature, design-science research is concerned with solving complex practical problems that are ill-defined or of a “wicked” nature. At the same time, as in any research activity, design-science research is also concerned with the production of knowledge. In the process of design-science research, the researcher must act as both designer and scientist. Design knowledge is distinct from scientific knowledge, however, and must be evaluated against a different set of criteria. Since the DSR process is iterative the scope of DSR knowledge can evolve, abstracting general (nomothetic) knowledge from situated (idiographic) artifacts or, alternately, applying abstract knowledge to situated settings. General knowledge is different from situated knowledge and must be evaluated accordingly.

In the current design-science literature, situated (idiographic) knowledge is associated with design, and abstract (nomothetic) knowledge is associated with science. This dissertation proposes that design can be abstract and that science can be situated in scope. The purpose of the dissertation is to identify the problems with the current conceptualization of contributions in DSR, offer an alternative view of the design-science paradigm as one having multiple genres of inquiry, provide the criteria for framing and evaluating design-science contributions, and describe how this will help address some of the current debate and clarify the current discourse.

The dissertation is structured in three parts. Part I employs a theoretical argument to develop a framework for these genres of inquiry in design-science research and demonstrates how the evaluation criteria for design-science research studies change as the research moves from one genre to another. Part II is an empirical study that uses a search conference method to apply the bindpoint model (Baskerville and Lee 2013), an explanatory design theory to the problem of information security risk resulting from consumerization and BYOD (bring your own device). Part III reflects on the learning from the theoretical and the practical discourse and provides the contributions and opportunities for future research.

This dissertation contributes to the design-science field by providing a more nuanced understanding of the contributions and evaluation criteria of design-science research. It contributes to the Information Systems (IS) security field by providing a design theory for managing BYOD security. Lastly, it contributes to Information Systems research methods by introducing the search conference method as a viable approach for theorizing and for evaluating design-science contributions.