Elaborating ADR while drifting away from its essence: A commentary on Mullarkey and Hevner

Maung K. Sein*, Matti Rossi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
266 Downloads (Pure)


In their insightful critique of Action Design Research, Hevner and Mullarkey (this issue) proposed an enhancement of ADR by juxtaposing concepts from a well cited framework of Design Science Research (DSR) developed by Peffers et al. (2007). In this commentary, we argue that while we agree with some of their elaborations, such as unpacking the specific stages of ADR to make them more transparent and accessible and incorporating formalization of learning in every stage, we also disagree with Hevner and Mullarkey on two key areas. The first is depicting multiple different entry points to an ADR project, which goes against the essential spirit of ADR’s single entry point, problem formulation. More importantly, in juxtaposing the Peffers et al. framework of DSR on to ADR, they are combining two approaches that are epistemologically incommensurate. Peffers et al. take a deductive design approach while ADR employs principally an inductive epistemology by giving primacy to the guided emergence of the artifact. In spite of our disagreements, we conclude that both approaches are premised upon pragmatism where researchers are guided more by utility and usefulness rather than an abstract notion of truth. Our disagreements are essential characteristics of a healthy academic discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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