A metadesign theory for tailorable decision support

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Journal of the Association for Information Systems


© 2019 by the Association for Information Systems. Despite years of decision support systems (DSS) research, DSS artifacts are frequently criticized for lacking practitioner relevance and for neglecting configurability and contextual dynamism. Tailoring in end-user contexts can produce relevant emergent DSS artifacts, but design theory for this is lacking. Design science research (DSR) has important implications for improving DSS uptake, but generally this has not been promoted in the form of metadesigns with design principles applicable to other DSS developments. This paper describes a metadesign theory for tailorable DSS, generated through action design research studies in different primary industries. Design knowledge from a DSS developed in an agricultural domain was distilled and generalized into a design theory comprising: (1) a general solution concept (metadesign), and (2) five hypothesized design principles. These were then instantiated via a second development in which the metadesign and design principles were applied in a different domain (forestry) to produce a successful DSS, thus testing the metadesign and validating the design principles. In addition to contributing to DSR and illustrating innovation in tailorable technology, the paper demonstrates the utility of action design research to support theory development in DSS design.

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