Background knowledge

Body of knowledge used, and taken for granted until new notice’  (Bunge, 2003: 29). (p.3)

Basic Science in Entrepreneurship

Approach to entrepreneurship that aims at developing explanatory knowledge (i.e., explaining, describing and potentially predicting entrepreneurship phenomena) using the scientific method. (p.2)

Confirmatory Methods

Procedures that can be used to test or validate whether an idea holds up within a specific context (Edmondson & McManus, 2007). (p.11)


Deliberate creation of an artifact or design object (Van Aken & Berends, 2018). (p.9)

Design evaluation knowledge

Knowledge about criteria, values, and value judgments related to the quality of the design object, including its social worth (Bunge, 1985). (p.4)

Design Knowledge

Knowledge which ‘devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones’ (Simon, 1996: 129). Design knowledge comprises both the knowledge of devising courses of action (i.e., design object knowledge) and the values, criteria, and value judgements related to its quality (i.e., design evaluation knowledge). It is also referred to as pragmatically oriented knowledge (Berglund et al., 2018), prescriptive knowledge (Gregor, Chandra Kruse, & Seidel, 2020; Niiniluoto, 1993), knowledge about means-ends relationships (vom Brocke et al., 2020), or as teleological knowledge (Evered, 1976; Whetten, 2009). (p.3)

Design Object Knowledge

Knowledge prescribing courses of action on how to change an existing situation into a preferred one (Simon, 1996). In general terms, design object knowledge can be described in the form of ‘Do X in order to Y’ (Berglund et al., 2018; Evered, 1976; Gregor et al., 2020; Whetten, 2009), where X refers to some kind of action, process, or event(s) and Y refers to a desired outcome. (p.4)

Design Problems

Issues in the body of design knowledge (Bunge, 2017; Holmström et al., 2009). Also referred to as Design Knowledge Problems. (p.3)

Design Science in Entrepreneurship

Approach to entrepreneurship that aims at developing design knowledge using the scientific method. (p.1, 2)

Effectiveness and Efficiency

Evaluation whether a plan is achieving its goal, while efficiency is related to the evaluation of input/output ratios. (p.5)

Empirical contributions

Characterization of objects of experience (e.g., observing, describing, measuring) as well as the realization of artifacts (e.g., constructing a material artifact or realizing a training design) (Bunge, 1967). (p.4)

Empirical design object

Empirical evaluation of a design object or the empirical description of relevant design criteria. The most prominent empirical evaluation contribution is probably the evaluation of realized artifacts (Venable et al., 2012, 2016). Realization of artifacts or their empirical characterization (Bunge, 1967). A first main empirical contribution can be made by constructing a material artifact. In the IS field, the realization of a design idea is also referred to as an instantiation (March & Smith, 1995). A second, empirical design object contribution is describing an action or artifact and its effects (vom Brocke & Maedche, 2019). (p.6, 7)


Assessment of the usefulness (and social worth) of the created artifact (Van Aken & Berends, 2018; Venable et al., 2012). (p.9)

Evaluation Study

For evaluation studies, the key question is whether an already known means-ends relationship is in some way useful. While such evaluation studies can test the artifact, they can also evaluate more abstract design principles (Gregor et al., 2020; van Aken, 2004) or design theories (Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Holmström et al., 2009). (p.8)

Exploration project

Exploration projects are characterized by an open search for novel means-ends relationships. Exploration projects may be the most entrepreneurial of the four types of design science research projects (Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Hevner & Gregor, 2020). Gregor and Hevner (2013) described these projects as follows: ‘True invention is a radical breakthrough – a clear departure from the accepted ways of thinking and doing’ (Gregor & Hevner, 2013: 346). These design science projects are likely to progress in a highly iterative and creative fashion, with the problem space and the solution space being explored (vom Brocke et al., 2020). Novel problems are explored for which novel solutions are designed, which may further improve the understanding of the problem and, in turn, provide new insights into solutions and so forth. (p.9)

Exploration Methods

Procedures to search for novel knowledge that exceeds previous knowledge on the topic. Empirical exploratory methods include open-ended or semi-structured interviews, participant observation, focus group interviews, and exploratory case studies (Creswell, 2013; Edmondson & McManus, 2007). (p.11)

Improvement Study

In an improvement study, the goal or the end can be defined sufficiently from the beginning, while the means for achieving that end need to be developed (Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Hevner & Gregor, 2020). This is the case for the question of how to make a ‘machine bureaucracy’ (Mintzberg, 1980: 322) more entrepreneurial. In this case, the ‘end’ of becoming more entrepreneurial is rather clearly defined. The question is how to find means for achieving that end. (p.8)


Well-specified repeatable procedures for doing something’ (Bunge, 2003: 180), which can be either empirical (e.g., qualitative and quantitative empirical methods) or conceptual (e.g., computer simulations, mathematical or logical proofs). (p.11)

Mixed Methods

A combination of confirmatory and exploratory methods. (p.11)

Practice in Entrepreneurship

Approach to entrepreneurship premised primarily on taking action or decisions based on experience and intuition. (p.2)

Problem Analysis

Defining and understanding a practical problem (Van Aken & Berends, 2018). (p.9)

Problem Space

Knowledge on what kind of practical problem exists, for whom, where, and when (e.g., how to foster small business growth in Western Africa). (p.4)

Solution Space

Knowledge on solution options (e.g., business training, psychological training, financial support, networking opportunities). (p.4)

Theoretical contributions

Development or extension of ideas – that is, concepts, propositions, classifications, theories, methods and whatever else can be thought of (Bunge, 2003). (p.5)

Theoretical design evaluation

Development or extension of ideas on criteria, standards, and techniques for evaluating design objects. For any given design object, various criteria for evaluation – such as usability, fit with the organization, simplicity, and beauty – can be relevant (Hevner et al., 2004; Venable et al., 2012). (p.7)

Theoretical design object

Design or extension of situated artifacts, design principles or design theories (Baskerville et al., 2018; Bunge, 2003; Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Holmström et al., 2009). For example, Campos et al. (2017) contributed a novel situated artifact by designing psychological entrepreneurship training. On a slightly higher level of abstraction, the same design science study may have also contributed to the development of design principles by explaining how, why, and under what conditions the training is useful (e.g., Denyer et al., 2008; Gregor et al., 2020; van Aken, 2004). (p.5)