Don't Ignore the Iceberg: Timely Revelation of Justification in DSR

Jan Pries-Heje, Dirk S. Hovorka

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Design theory is often an outcome of Design Science Research (DSR) and kernel theories provide explanatory justification of design principles. But like an iceberg, many of the design principles lie hidden under the surface or inadequately specified. Ascertaining the completeness of the design principles requires additional design process steps to surface underlying assumptions and to abstract design principles which emerge during secondary design. We follow the development of a project management decision support artifact and describe the primary design, based on literature on agile systems development, and the subsequent secondary design that took place in a financial company. Analysis reveals an “iceberg phenomenon”; only a partial design justification was initially apparent, and underlying design assumptions are only revealed through deeper reflection and analysis. We conclude by providing guidelines for making design justification more explicit in both the design and the evaluation phases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign science at the intersection of physical and virtual design : 8th International Conference, DESRIST 2013, Helsinki, Finland, June 11‐12, 2013. Proceedings
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)9783642388262
Publication statusPublished - 2013
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • Design Science Research (DSR)
  • Kernel Theories
  • Design Principles
  • Agile Systems Development
  • Design Justification


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