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Ensemble Artifacts: From Viewing to Designing in Action Design Research

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TitleEnsemble Artifacts: From Viewing to Designing in Action Design Research
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPurao, S, Henfridsson, O, Rossi, M, Sein, M
JournalAn International Journal on Information Technology, Action, Communication and Workpractices
KeywordsDesign Research, Ensemble Artifacts

Action Design Research (ADR) is a research method for generating design knowledge through building and evaluating ensemble artifacts. In this paper, we respond to Goldkuhl’s critical review of the conceptualization of IT artifact in ADR. In particular, the review problematizes the so-called “conceptual journey” from an ensemble view to ensemble artifact, and suggests that this journey restricts the use of ADR. We recognize Goldkuhl’s critique as a valuable opportunity to clarify our thinking and elaborate the rationale behind ensemble artifact. We maintain that the notion of ensemble artifact in ADR is appropriate because it highlights the forward-looking orientation of designing artifacts and stresses the importance of the context for the evolution and use of the resulting artifact. It stands in contrast to the retrospective orientation of the ensemble view nomenclature from Orlikowski and Iacono that we borrowed and extended for ADR. Finally, we endorse Goldkuhl’s proposed communicative view as a useful addition to the toolkit of ADR researchers who can study the design of communicative tool artifacts.