Design Science in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship scholars have mostly been concerned with sciences which explain and interpret the world; now it is time to pay attention also to sciences which change the world.
(Quote adapted from Ilkka Niiniluoto, 1993)
What is Design Science in Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship-as-design-science is a distinct scientific approach to entrepreneurship that it is primarily interested in design knowledge. Following Simon (1996) design knowledge can be defined as the knowledge on devising ‘action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones’. Design science tackles ‘how to’ questions: Whereas the ‘how’ refers to the actions, the ‘to’ refers to the preferred situations in Simon’s terminology. Examples of such questions are: ‘How to design entrepreneurship training effectively?’ or 'How to develop an ecosystem strategy?’ Following the scientific method, entrepreneurship-as-design-science poses a problem against a scientific body of knowledge, uses scientifically rigorous methods, and checks them against the body of scientific knowledge.
Entrepreneurship-as-design-science is different from mainstream research of entrepreneurship-as-science. The aim of entrepreneurship-as-science is to contribute to explanatory knowledge on entrepreneurship instead of contributing to design knowledge devising entrepreneurial action. Entrepreneurship-as-design-science is also distinct from entrepreneurship-as-practice as the latter does not generate scientific knowledge. The different approaches are nevertheless united. While entrepreneurship-as-design-science shares the ultimate value of entrepreneurship-as-practice of being useful, it shares with entrepreneurship-as-science that it makes use of the scientific method in developing knowledge.
Design Science in Entrepreneurship – Some Definitions
Guiding Principles for Doing Design Science
In this section, we build on the previously discussed conceptual foundations to provide practical guidance on how to conduct good design science in entrepreneurship (see Table 1).
We formulate four guiding principles grounded in the dimensions which we have identified as integral to design science as a specific scientific approach: (1) aim, (2) problem, (3) background knowledge, and (4) methods (Bunge, 1996: 79). For each of these dimensions, we provide one overarching guiding principle as well as more specific guiding questions to provide guidance for planning, conducting, and assessing design science research in entrepreneurship. . To develop the guiding frameworks, we draw considerably on work from other fields, and particularly the IS field (e.g., Baskerville et al., 2018; Gregor et al., 2020; Gregor & Hevner, 2013; Hevner et al., 2004; Venable et al., 2012; vom Brocke et al., 2020).